Lions' T.J. Hockenson sets rookie tight end record with Week 1 flourish

Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson had a debut game for the record books against the Arizona Cardinals. (Getty Images)

Detroit Lions fans were a bit ambivalent about their first-round pick this past spring, but they might be feeling a bit better about it after Sunday’s debut.

Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson broke the record for most yards by a rookie tight end in Week 1 when he hauled in a 23-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals.

That gave him 124 receiving yards (on five catches), which broke the Week 1 rookie TE mark since the NFL merger in 1970 set by the Seattle Seahawks’ Will Disslyaccording to Pro Football Reference.

Joining a vaunted list

Hockenson is now one of only 11 rookie tight ends with that many receiving yards in any game their first season. Among the other names on that list include Pro Football Hall of Famer Ozzie Newsome (who also had 124 yards back in 1978) and former New York Giants great Mark Bavaro, who holds the high-water mark with a 176-yard game back in 1985.

The most recent rookie tight end to hit that 124-yard threshold was the Washington Redskins’ Jordan Reed, who hauled in 134 receiving yards back in the 2013 season.

Rookie tight ends often are slow to develop. For Hockenson — the eighth overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft — to have such a successful debut game is a great sign for the Lions, who took a 24-6 lead on the Cardinals with his touchdown.

Perhaps the Lions knew what they were doing when they drafted the 6-5, 247-pound tight end out of Iowa.

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