T.J. Hockenson

Lions To Place T.J. Hockenson On IR

T.J. Hockenson‘s first NFL season will end early. The No. 8 overall pick suffered an ankle injury that will prompt the Lions to place him on IR, Matt Patricia said Monday.

The Iowa product will wrap up his first season with 32 receptions for 367 yards and two touchdowns. Fellow Big Ten-produced rookie David Blough repeatedly tried to get Hockenson going on Thanksgiving Day, targeting him a season-high 11 times, but that effort ended with six receptions for 18 yards. It was emblematic of Hockenson’s rookie year.

After it looked like Hockenson would buck the trend of rookie tight ends being slow to assimilate to NFL action, he did not contribute too much statistically. More than a third of Hockenson’s yardage numbers came via his six-catch, 131-yard debut against the Cardinals. He did suffer a concussion and a shoulder injury, however. Hockenson still figures to be a key target for Matthew Stafford next season.

Detroit used a first-round pick on a tight end for the third time in 10 years, with Hockenson following Brandon Pettigrew and Eric Ebron. Hockenson joined Noah Fant as Iowa tight ends chosen in Round 1. Considering the leap fellow Iowa product George Kittle made in his second season, more can be expected of the ex-Hawkeyes as NFL sophomores.

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Injury Notes: Ravens, Hockenson, Jones

Ravens defensive tackle Michael Pierce is doubtful to play in Monday Night’s game against the Rams with an ankle injury, according to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic. Peirce started Baltimore’s first nine games before going down. Veteran Domato Peko Sr. will replace Peirce in the lineup.

Also via Zrebiec, wide receiver Chris Moore, offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, and offensive guard Ben Powers all remain questionable with injuries of their own. Stanley, who is dealing with an ankle issue of his own, is the only starter of the three, but he would be a substantial loss as the team’s starting right tackle. Moore has started one game this season and played sparingly, while Powers has yet to take the field.

Here’s more Saturday notes on the injury front around the NFL:

  • Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson was added to the injury report as questionable with a shoulder injury, according to a team press release. The eight overall pick in this year’s draft practiced all week without any reported issues so the news comes as a surprise. Hockenson has split time at tight end this year with Jesse James, but represents a far superior pass-catching option for quarterback Jeff Driskel. Hockenson has made 26 receptions and recorded 349 yards, while James has only caught 8 of 15 targets and gained 64 yards.
  • The Broncos signed cornerback Cyrus Jones last week and he was a healthy scratch against the Vikings. Even if the team wanted to activate him tomorrow, though, Jones has been ruled out with an illness, according to Aric DiLalla of Broncos.com. Jones was a second-round selection by the Patriots in 2016, but was released by New England earlier this season. He then jumped between the Ravens and Patriots practice squads before signing in Denver.

No IR For Lions’ T.J. Hockenson

Lions rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson won’t be forced to go on injured reserve, despite a scary scene on Sunday, ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter hears. Still, Hockenson will need some time to recuperate.

Hockenson took a hard hit in the Lions’ loss to the Chiefs, resulting in an injury to his right shoulder and a concussion. The No. 8 overall pick will rest up for a bit with an eye on picking up where he left off later this year. Against the Chiefs, he notched three catches for 27 yards and a touchdown, giving him an 11/166/2 line through four games (three starts).

His production will be missed, but the Lions will be able to turn to veterans Jesse James and Logan Thomas in the interim. If the Lions move to add another tight end to the mix, they’ll have to create roster room elsewhere.

After their bye week, the Lions will resume action against the Packers on Monday, October 14.

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Injury Updates: Trubisky, Smith, Hockenson, Allen, Ingram, Mack, Stills

Perhaps the most significant injury of Week 4 afternoon games was Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky going down. Trubisky went down hard on his left shoulder, and was quickly ruled out before returning to the sideline with his arm in a sling. Bears coach Matt Nagy didn’t offer many details after the game, but he said he didn’t expect the injury to be season-ending, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). While it certainly could be worse, that does seem to suggest that the Bears expect Trubisky to miss at least a little time. Chase Daniel will fill in under center.

Here are more injury updates from around the league:

  • Bears linebacker Roquan Smith was surprisingly inactive for the team’s win over the Vikings, and Nagy said after the game Smith’s absence was for personal reasons, Pelissero tweets. Nagy wouldn’t elaborate and wouldn’t say whether Smith’s personal issue would extend beyond this week. This will be something to monitor, as Smith is a key part of Chicago’s defense.
  • Lions rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson took a hard hit in Detroit’s loss to the Chiefs, and was ruled out with a concussion. The Lions drafted Hockenson eighth overall back in April, and he’s shown a lot of promise in the first few games. He had three catches and a touchdown before going down against Kansas City, and is a big part of Detroit’s passing game. Hopefully he’ll be able to get cleared in time for Week 5.
  • Speaking of concussions, Bills quarterback Josh Allen suffered one on a brutal hit in Buffalo’s loss to the Patriots. He was ruled out for the remainder of the game and if he can’t get cleared by next week, Matt Barkley will be under center. Allen was struggling before getting hurt and had thrown three interceptions, but Barkley wasn’t much better in relief.
  • The Chargers’ injuries continued to pile up, as star pass-rusher Melvin Ingram left their game against the Dolphins and was quickly ruled out with a hamstring injury. Los Angeles was already one of the most banged up teams in the league, so this was the last thing they needed. Head coach Anthony Lynn said after the game that Ingram pulled a hamstring and they didn’t know how long he’d be out, according to a tweet from Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com.
  • Colts running back Marlon Mack tweaked his ankle, but it doesn’t seem serious. Mack only had two carries in the second half, but he said after the game it was just “coach’s decision” to hold him out and that he expects to be fine for Indy’s Week 5 game against the Chiefs, according to Charlie Clifford of WISH 8 (Twitter link).
  • Texans receiver Kenny Stills left his team’s loss to the Panthers with a hamstring injury, but it’s unclear how severe it is. After the game, head coach Bill O’Brien said the team would have to wait until Monday to determine the severity, per a tweet from Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Stills would be a big loss, but Houston would still have a very solid receiving corp in Will Fuller, DeAndre Hopkins, and Keke Coutee without him.

Poll: Which Top 10 Pick Has The Highest Bust Potential?

The NFL Draft is just barely in the rear view mirror, which means that teams are full of hope for their young rookies. But, of course, the NFL Draft is largely a crapshoot, and not every player will realize their full potential. 

This year’s draft had talent, but lacked a true consensus on the top player. Many evaluators pegged defensive end Nick Bosa as the player with the highest ceiling in the 2019 class, but other saw Alabama’s Quinnen Williams as the “safest bet.” The 49ers pounced on Bosa with the No. 2 pick while the Jets (and former GM Mike Maccagnan) were delighted to land Williams at No. 3 overall.

Leading up to the draft, much of the attention was on Oklahoma quarterback (and one-time MLB hopeful) Kyler Murray. When Murray announced that he would ditch the Oakland A’s, his stock exploded – Murray was considered a borderline first-round prospect in the winter, but wound up as the Cardinals’ choice at No. 1 overall. Murray has the speed that teams crave at the QB position, but questions persist about his size and overall lack of experience as a full-time starter.

The Cardinals’ long flirtation with Murray brought us the expected result, but the Raiders gave us the real first shock of the draft when they tapped Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell at No. 4 overall. Not to be outdone, the Giants snagged Duke’s Daniel Jones at No. 6 overall. Heading into the draft, neither player was thought to be anywhere near Top 10 consideration, but Mike Mayock and Dave Gettleman were unwilling to trade down and risk losing out on their guys.

The domino effect created by those picks allowed the Bucs to grab inside linebacker Devin White (No. 5 overall), the Jaguars to land outside linebacker Josh Allen (No. 6), the Lions to snag top tight end T.J. Hockenson, the Bills to draft defensive tackle Ed Oliver (No. 9 overall), and the Steelers to finish out the Top 10 with linebacker Devin Bush. Most of those picks were warmly received, but nothing is certain in the draft.

Which Top 10 pick do you think has the highest bust potential? Click below to cast your vote (link for app users) and back up your choice in the comment section.

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Extra Points: Packers, Jets, Chargers, Lions

The Packers have a huge season ahead of them. After an outstanding run of success, things got stale in Green Bay under Mike McCarthy, which resulted in his firing. The team desperately needs a boost of energy, and they’re hoping they found it in new coach Matt LaFleur. The 39-year-old is apparently wasting no time taking charge in his first offseason at the helm, as Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette writes that the young coach is “taking on an enormous load” during OTAs. Dougherty says that LaFleur is hovering around the quarterbacks and coaching them up at every opportunity, which he describes as a notable departure from McCarthy, who left that up to his quarterbacks coach.

LaFleur is apparently sitting in on all the quarterbacks meetings, and Aaron Rodgers importantly is happy with the way he’s being coached up. Dougherty writes that Rodgers “appears to be embracing” LaFleur’s hands-on approach. That’s surely music to the ears of Packers fans, but Dougherty does caution that there’s some level of concern about everything he’s putting on his own plate and how much his devotion to the quarterbacks “will take away from LaFleur’s panoramic view of the team once camp and the season start.” That being said, a reinvigorated Rodgers is by far the most important thing to the team right now, so it certainly doesn’t sound like a bad thing.

Here’s more from around the league on a quiet holiday weekend:

  • The Jets have had a drama-filled offseason, to say the least. Immediately after Mike Maccagnan was fired, reports began trickling out that Adam Gase didn’t want either of the Jets’ pricey free agent acquisitions, running back Le’Veon Bell and linebacker C.J. Mosley. While the reports that Gase didn’t want the team to sign Bell have more or less been confirmed, it’s apparently not true that he didn’t want Mosley, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. Cimini writes that Gase “was a strong proponent of signing Mosley,” and notes that Gase and Mosley even share the same agent, Jimmy Sexton. It sounds like the Jets have one less headache to worry about.
  • Chargers pass-rusher Joey Bosa has been a star ever since he entered the league. As a rookie he had 10.5 sacks despite missing the first four games of the season due to a contract holdout, and he’s been dominant off the edge ever since. But the Ohio State product was hobbled by a foot injury that cost him the nine games of last season, and he wasn’t quite the same after he returned. Speaking to the media recently after practice, Bosa conceded that the injury is still bothering him. “It’s just there. It’s just something I notice. It’s been getting better all offseason, so I could definitely see by camp or maybe even next year where it kind of starts fading away,” Bosa said, per Adam Maya of NFL.com. Foot injuries can be tricky, so it’s somewhat alarming that Bosa is still feeling soreness in his foot after this long, but Maya notes he did say it’s feeling “well enough for him to avoid a Lisfranc-type surgery.” This will be a situation to monitor this offseason.
  • Rookie tight ends often don’t play much right away. Tight end is widely regarded as the position that’s hardest to transition to from college to the pros, other than quarterback, and many take time to develop even if they’re drafted highly. It sounds like Lions rookie T.J. Hockenson could be an exception to that rule. Hockenson has looked good during OTAs, according to Tim Twentyman of the team’s official site, who notes that Detroit isn’t going to treat him with kid gloves, writing Hockenson will “see the field early and often.” The Lions got virtually nothing from their tight ends last season so they made it a priority to upgrade this offseason, signing Jesse James and drafting Hockenson eighth overall. It sounds like Hockenson is in line to start in his first season.

Lions Sign T.J. Hockenson, 2 Other Picks

The Lions’ second top-10 tight end pick in six drafts, T.J. Hockenson is now in the fold. The acclaimed Iowa prospect signed his rookie contract on Thursday, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press tweets.

In addition to Hockenson’s four-year deal, with the customary fifth-year option, the Lions agreed to terms with second-rounder Jahlani Tavai and fifth-round selection Amani Oruwariye, Birkett adds (via Twitter). Hockenson will receive a $12.435MM signing bonus upon inking his four-year, $19.821MM deal.

Detroit drafted Hockenson at No. 8 overall, two spots higher than the team took Eric Ebron five years ago. Hockenson may not have Ebron’s receiving upside but brings a more well-rounded game and hails from what’s become a tight end factory. The Hawkeyes have produced George Kittle, Broncos first-rounder Noah Fant, C.J. Fiedorowicz, Tony Moeaki, Scott Chandler and Dallas Clark over the past 15-plus years. Hockenson is expected to immediately become a key target for Matthew Stafford.

The Lions passed on Ebron’s 2018 option last year, and while the former North Carolina standout thrived as a Colt, his former team struggled to replace him. Levine Toilolo‘s 263 yards led Detroit tight ends. Hockenson, whom the Jaguars likely would have selected had the Giants not taken Daniel Jones at No. 6, broke out for 760 (on 49 receptions) as a sophomore last season at Iowa, where he also became a well-regarded blocker.

A linebacker out of Hawaii, Tavai played both on the Warriors’ defensive line and at middle linebacker. He registered 16.5 sacks in four college seasons. Oruwariye arrives as a cornerback from Penn State.

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East Rumors: Bills, Jernigan, Fins, Giants

Prior to the Giants’ selection of Daniel Jones, the Bills were engaged in talks to move down from their No. 9 spot. In a must-watch piece for Bills fans and draft buffs, Brandon Beane allowed partial access to his team’s draft room (video link). Buffalo scrapped talks to trade down once New York selected Jones, with Beane zeroing in on Ed Oliver shortly after. It appeared the Bills, despite taking Dawson Knox in Round 3, did not have interest in T.J. Hockenson, the Lions’ selection at No. 8. Applause occurred after Detroit left Oliver on the board.

The Bills also offered an undisclosed team picking in the 20s, which initiated the talks, picks 40, 131 and 147. (Beane said multiple teams contacted him to inquire if the Bills wanted to move back into Round 1.) But said team did not believe that was enough to move out of the round. This move was likely for Cody Ford. The Bills attempted to trade up higher than they did in order to land Ford in the second round, with members of their draft room showing relief the Panthers — whom Bills execs assumed were taking the Oklahoma lineman — before striking a deal with the Raiders for No. 38. The Bills also rebuffed a Bears offer to move out of No. 74, which ended up sending running back Devin Singletary to Buffalo.

Moving to an NFCer’s defensive line situation, here is the latest from the East divisions:

  • The Eagles released Timmy Jernigan but brought him back at what turned out to be a substantial discount. After signing a four-year, $48MM extension late in 2017, Jernigan had to settle for a one-year, $1.25MM deal, Reuben Frank of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports. This comes with $1MM guaranteed, including a $250K signing bonus. Another $750K is available in incentives, per Frank. Jernigan now enters what will be a significant season for his career trajectory. A full-time starter for the Super Bowl champion Eagles edition, Jernigan will only be 27 by the time free agency opens in 2020.
  • Currently at the Vikings‘ rookie camp, Sean McGuire appears to have another suitor in the event Minnesota does not sign him. The Dolphins are interested in adding the Western Illinois quarterback prospect, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (on Twitter). The Dolphins want to add a quarterback before their rookie camp begins May 10, Jackson continues. Miami now has Josh Rosen, Ryan Fitzpatrick and former Lions backup Jake Rudock on its roster. The Dolphins cut Luke Falk earlier this week. McGuire would seemingly compete for a third-string job or practice squad slot in Miami.
  • The Dolphins are likely to turn to the veteran offensive line market as well, Jackson writes, adding only four players — Laremy Tunsil, Daniel Kilgore, fellow starter Jesse Davis and third-round pick Michael Deiter — are true locks to make the roster. Although Jackson adds sixth-round pick Isaiah Prince and UFA signing Chris Reed will likely make the team as well, he notes the team appears ready to explore some additional help. Jared Veldheer, Donald Penn, Jermey Parnell, Mike Remmers, Andy Levitre and Stefen Wisniewski are some of the notable vets available.
  • Giants sixth-round pick Corey Ballentine did not show for their rookie minicamp this weekend. The team wants the recent gunshot victim to stay in Kansas and be with family, according to SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano (on Twitter). The Washburn-developed cornerback is expected to make a full recovery and attempt to make Big Blue’s 53-man roster — one without many surefire answers at corner.
  • Former Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey is officially listed on the Giants’ roster as a quarterback/tight end, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com tweets. Dungey was a dual-threat player for the Orange, finishing his career with 1,993 rushing yards and 35 touchdowns.

Dave Gettleman On Josh Allen, Daniel Jones, Eli Manning

Roger Goodell uttering the name “Daniel Jones” served as perhaps the most shocking moment of the draft, and the decision that led to the commissioner reading that card did not come easy for the Giants.

Dave Gettleman had another name in mind, in the event the Giants felt their short-term need at defensive end was too great to ignore at No. 6. The second-year Giants GM said (via NBC Sports’ Peter King) the decision to bypass Josh Allen for Jones was “agonizing.”

I agonized over that,” Gettleman said. “I agonized. Before the draft, we discussed that thoroughly as a group — first last Friday, then again Wednesday. Obviously we had great regard for Josh Allen. But the one thing I have learned is you don’t fool around with a quarterback. If he’s your guy, you take him.”

Gettleman said post-draft he knew of two teams that would have taken Jones before the Giants’ No. 17 pick. The Jaguars snapped up Allen at No. 7, doing so despite not expecting the Kentucky edge rusher to be there. Jacksonville was expecting to make a decision between T.J. Hockenson and Jonah Williams, with Albert Breer of SI.com noting Hockenson was the Jags’ likely pick had the Giants gone with Allen as many expected. After the Jags’ Allen pivot, the Lions took Hockenson at No. 8.

The Giants have possessed three top-six picks since 2004, the first of those leading to Eli Manning and the second producing Saquon Barkley. Gettleman did not indicate last year he had any kind of debate between choosing Barkley or Sam Darnold. A year later, the Giants GM said his team might not have another near-future chance to grab a top quarterback prospect without sacrificing plenty in a trade, helping lead the Giants to Jones this year.

There are no guarantees. So the bottom line is, if you believe this kid can get you to the promised land, why wait?” Gettleman said, via Breer. “You have to have confidence in what you’re doing. You’re drafting players. The team will be better. Now, what happens next year? What if you don’t take him this year, and next year you’re picking 22? You’re going to have to move heaven and earth. This is the closest we’re going to get. It made the most sense.”

The Giants did not leave Manning in the dark about the Jones decision. He called the Giants’ 16th-year quarterback while on the clock at No. 6. Gettleman said Manning could potentially be Big Blue’s starter for multiple additional seasons.

I was on the phone with Eli. I told him, ‘You’re our quarterback, let’s go,'” Gettleman said, via Breer. “And by the way, we’re drafting the Jones kid, and your job is to be the best quarterback you can be and help us win. It’s his responsibility to crawl up your fanny and learn.”

New York attempted to trade up to land Denver’s pick at No. 10, but the Broncos went with the Steelers’ proposal instead, King reports. It’s possible the Giants wanted to trade up to land Rashan Gary or Brian Burns, whom the Packers and Panthers respectively selected. The Giants selected defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence at No. 17.

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