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Lions TE Jesse James Says Addition Of Hockenson Gives Offense 'Huge Advantage'

Could the two form a dynamic duo?

May 14, 2019 - 8:02 pm
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Jesse James could have been disgruntled when the Lions drafted T.J. Hockenson eighth overall. He came to Detroit for a bigger role after playing second fiddle to Vance Jackson with the Steelers, and now his new team was investing a first-round pick in a player at his position. 

But James' reaction to the move was positive. 

"It’s good for the tight end unit," he said. "Whatever we can do to be productive and help the offense. They have a lot of confidence in him to be able to bring him in here. More competition always brings out the best in everyone. That’s kind of how it was in Pittsburgh. We had competition, it brought out the best in me and Vance, so I feel like it’s going to do the same with the whole unit here." 

While Hockenson will obviously be a big part of Detroit's offense, he won't necessarily cut into James' playing time. The Lions, under offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, are poised to frequently deploy two tight end sets. Bob Quinn said as much the night he brought Hockenson into the fold. 

James, who signed for $22.6 million over four years, knows he'll have plenty of chances to make plays. If all goes according to plan, he and Hockenson can form a dynamic duo. 

"There’s just not a lot of teams in the NFL that have a solid two tight-end unit that can go out there and run any part of their offense," said James. "It’s a huge advantage if you have two guys you’re confident in (who) you can throw out there and run stuff you would run just out of a one tight-end set. You can stretch the defense a little different than most teams do." 

Tight ends are becoming increasingly involved in offenses around the NFL. It's a mismatch Matt Patricia and the Lions want to exploit. With two good ones in Hockenson and James, they have the resources to do so.

Hockenson said he's looking forward to playing under Bevell, who frequently deployed two tight-end packages during his time as offensive coordinator of the Seahawks. 

"You can run the ball when we’re on the field. We can go down for routes. With Coach Bevell, this is a great place to be for tight ends, this entire scheme. We’re just excited to be a part of it," he said. 

When he met James in the Lions facility over the weekend, Hockenson said the veteran made him feel welcome. 

"He just walked by and greeted me and said, 'How you doing, how's everything going?' And same with Logan (Thomas) and Jerome (Cunningham) and Michael (Roberts). All those guys have brought me into that room and really welcomed me and been like, 'Hey man, if you need anything with the offense, just let me know.'

"That’s something that you need as a young guy, is to have someone bring you under their wing."