T.J. Hockenson reported to training camp with the rest of the Lions rookies, injured players and select veterans on July 18, so he's been to work for about a week now.
The rest of Detroit's vets reported for work Wednesday. Thursday is the first full-squad practice of training camp, which is really when Hockenson's NFL career truly starts. Training camp is all about competition. The pads come on in a few days, and the competition for jobs and playing time is about to ramp up for Hockenson and the rest of the rookies.
It begs the question, what is the biggest challenge Hockenson faces heading into training camp?
"Just the acclimation from college to pro," tight ends coach Chris White said. "Those little things."
Some of those little things White refers to come off the field, too -- Things like living on his own for the first time, renting a place to live and all the things that come with starting a life in a new city.
On the field, the No. 8 overall pick enters his professional career with a good resume. He won the John Mackey Award as the nation's top tight end last year and the Big Ten Tight End of the Year award, along with first-team all-conference honors. He started 13 games for Iowa and lead the team with 49 catches for 760 yards (15.5 average) and six touchdowns.
Nonetheless, outside of the quarterback position, tight end is probably the hardest position on offense for young players to learn coming from the college.
"For tight ends ... they have to learn everything," White said. "They have to learn the pass game like a wide receiver. They have to learn the run game like an offensive lineman. They have to be in pass protection at times. They have to learn hots. They have to be on the same page with the quarterback. So, I think that's the biggest thing with all young tight ends."
Luckily for the Lions, Hockenson comes from a pro system at Iowa where he was asked to play in-line and do a lot of the things that NFL tight ends are asked to do. It puts Hockenson a little bit ahead of the curve, White admitted, because he said the most difficult part of coaching young tight ends is teaching them the in-line part of the game and the blocking schemes, especially if they're not familiar with doing it.
Hockenson has blocked defensive ends and made line calls.
"I think he's got a step up there from a lot of tight ends," White said.
Veterans in the tight end room like Jesse James and Logan Thomas have been really good with the young players like Hockenson and fellow rookie Isaac Nauta, lending advice and showing them the ropes, White said. He likes the symmetry within that tight end room, and the talent level. He expects there to be a lot of competition in camp.
View photos of players arriving for 2019 Detroit Lions Training Camp presented by Rocket Mortgage on Wednesday, July 24, 2019 in Allen Park, Mich.
Hockenson is likely to be a big part of the offense alongside James. White called Hockenson a grinder, and is looking forward to seeing how he handles himself in the coming days and weeks.
"He is very demanding of himself," White said of Hockenson. "He puts a lot of pressure on himself. I think that's a good thing. He wants to do everything exactly the way it's coached, so if he has the slightest little mistake there, he'll learn from it, but he'll get kind of pissed off."
Training camp is a big learning curve for all rookies, and Hockenson is no exception.