The Detroit Lions traded star tight end T.J. Hockenson to the Minnesota Vikings on Tuesday. While it’s a huge loss for Detroit, the coaching staff firmly believes it was the right decision and will open up an opportunity for other players to get their shot. The players they are referring to are Brock Wright and James Mitchell.
Brock Wright is a second-year tight end who came to Detroit from Notre Dame. He made his NFL debut with the Lions last season and played in 10 games, starting in five. So far this season he has played in all seven games and recorded 6 receptions for 88 yards. He went into concussion protocol during the game last weekend but he is expected to be good to go on Sunday. Quarterback Jared Goff spoke highly of Wright on Wednesday:
“I think Brock’s done a good job progressing and becoming a guy that I can rely on,” Goff said. “A guy that has really kind of come in to his own, he’s playing with some confidence now and can do some good things. He’s developing as a pass-catcher and I think even back to this time when we played Green Bay last year he had a nice touchdown catch and another nice catch there in the fourth quarter over the middle. So, he’s becoming that threat in the passing game, he’s does a tremendous job in run blocking, but has developed as a pass-catcher.”
James Mitchell is a rookie tight end who the Lions took out of Virginia Tech in the fifth-round of the 2022 NFL Draft. In college he recorded 52 receptions for 838 yards and seven touchdowns. He also added five rushing touchdowns. So far this season he has played in four games and recorded just one reception for 14 yards. Dan Campbell spoke on Mitchell earlier this week.
“Mitchell has every week gotten a little bit better,” Campbell said. “He hasn’t gotten a heavy load, but this will be – he’s going to get more on his plate now, and we think he’ll be ready that. We think he’s going to be ready for that.”
The coaching staff preaches the next-man-up mentality, but while James Mitchell could see more playing time on Sunday, Goff says he is more comfortable with Brock Wright.
“Me and Brock have had a lot of reps together,” Goff said. “James would be the one where him and I are catching up to speed a little bit. Moreso just because he’s just getting healthy in the last couple months here, but Brock and I have a lot of reps together, and specifically going back to last year where he had to play quite a bit at times, and I feel good with Brock. Certainly, there will be some things moving forward that we’ll have to dial in with those guys, but I’m sure we won’t ask them to do anything that they’re not capable of, so it’s all stuff that they’ve been doing.”
Campbell addressed the media on Wednesday following the Hockenson trade. While he said Hockenson was a great player, he thinks the team may be better without him.
“Yeah, look honestly I look at it for it’s an opportunity for other guys and as good as T.J. was, there’s things that we’ll be able to do better potentially,” Capmbell said. “Having other guys on the field. I mean, that’s – there is always some of that give and take no matter what player’s out there.”
Jason Cabinda Also in the Mix
Another name that peeked into the mix at tight end is Jason Cabinda. Cabinda has been on PUP list since the beginning of the season, but as of Wednesday his clock started began again. Campbell mentioned him as another possibility for the team.
“…there’s a chance we bring (Shane) Zylstra or we’ll look at (Jason) Cabinda too, see how he practices through the week,” Campbell said. “So, we have some flexibility here to decide what we’re going to do.”
Cabinda has confirmed he will not be playing Sunday as he isn’t ready yet. However, there is a chance we see him next week.
The Detroit Lions host the Green Bay Packers at Ford Field on Sunday.
Maddy Miller – Detroit Lions Beat Reporter
On Twitter: @madelynvmillerr
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