EAGAN, Minn. — T.J. Hockenson was among the many surprised to see the tight end traded within the division.
But Detroit opted to send the 2019 first-round pick to Minnesota just before the NFL's trade deadline for 2022.
Hockenson has totaled 30 receptions for 225 yards and a touchdown in his first five games with Minnesota, immediately finding degrees of comfort with the Vikings offense and quickly earning the trust of quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Now, he'll be heading back to Ford Field, where he played in 24 games for Detroit.
"It's gonna be fun. I've kind of been joking with [former Lions QB] David [Blough], this is the first time back, so we might end up in the wrong locker room by accident," Hockenson laughed Thursday. "But it's gonna be fun. It's gonna be fun going over there, seeing everybody and then doing our thing. I can't wait, honestly."
Hockenson caught a touchdown against Minnesota back in Week 3 at U.S. Bank Stadium and said he's occasionally seen himself still wearing Honolulu Blue when Head Coach Kevin O'Connell has shown game film during the team's preparation for opponents.
"Every once in a while, K.O. will show some tape in the team room and I'll be in Lions gear and stuff, so it's funny. It's funny how that works," Hockenson said. "It's great. Honestly, I'm happy to be here. Just to go over there, see all those guys and just be back in Detroit – I've still got a lot of things there. It'll be fun to be back, and I'm excited to be on the field."
Hockenson and the Vikings (10-2) can clinch the NFC North with a win or tie, but the Lions (5-7) have won four of five games and are trying to make a run for a playoff spot.
Here are all the ways to catch the action, a synopsis of the series history and a key topic addressed this week by Vikings Offensive Coordinator Wes Phillips, Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell and Special Teams Coordinator Matt Daniels.
FOX (KMSP in the Twin Cities)
Kickoff: Noon (CT)
Play-by-Play: Kenny Albert
Analyst: Jonathan Vilma
Sideline reporter: Shannon Spake
Fans in the green areas on the map below from 506sports.com will be able to watch the game on their iOS mobile devices with the Vikings app or Vikings mobile site (Safari browser only).
Radio: KFAN (100.3-FM), KTLK (1130-AM) and the five-state Vikings Radio Network
Radio Pregame Show: Hosted by Mike Mussman (10 a.m.)
Play-by-Play: Paul Allen
Analyst: Pete Bercich
Sideline reporter: Ben Leber
New this year: People in Minnesota will be able to listen to the Vikings Radio Network broadcast through the iHeartRadio app on their smart devices.
SPANISH RADIO BROADCAST
New for the 2022 season, the Vikings will air a Spanish broadcast of all games.
You can hear the Vikings on Tico Sports at WREY "El Rey" 94.9-FM and 630-AM in the Twin Cities and on Tico-Sports.com, elrey949fm.com and vikings.com. Additionally, the stream will be available as part of NFL+.
Play-by-Play: Gabriel Rios
Minnesota: SiriusXM 121 or 383 and the SXM App
Detroit: SiriusXM 134 or 228 and the SXM App
VIKINGS MOBILE APP
Keep the Vikings nearby wherever you go with the Minnesota Vikings mobile app. A source for news and exclusive features, the app also will stream video broadcasts of games for people in the market/broadcast area of each game.
Click here for the full bevy of options that include over-the-air, cable, satellite, over-the-top and streaming methods.
Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Lions.
NFL+ AND NFL+ PREMIUM
Start your free trial of NFL+ today to watch Vikings preseason games live or on-demand.
NFL+ and NFL+ Premium provide all the action when you are on the go. It is available in the NFL app and at NFL.com/plus.
NFL+ is available for $4.99/month or $39.99/year and offers the following:
· Live out-of-market preseason games across devices
· Live local and prime-time regular-season and postseason games on your phone or tablet
· Live game audio (home, away & national calls) for every game of the season
· NFL library programming on-demand, ad-free
NFL+ Premium is available for $9.99/month or $79.99/year and offers all of the NFL+ features and the following:
· Full-game replays across devices (ad-free)
· Condensed game replays across devices (ad-free)
· Coaches film (ad-free)
Minnesota is 80-40-2 all-time in 122 games against Detroit and has won nine of 10.
Phillips on finding the answers within a game:
The first time the Vikings rallied from a fourth-quarter deficit this season was Week 3 against the Lions.
Minnesota trailed by 10 in the fourth quarter but scored the game's final 14 points to win 28-24. Minnesota built off that ability to find answers when trailing in subsequent games and has totaled six fourth-quarter comebacks this season.
"It has been a pattern. So many one-score games, and our guys just keep chipping away and you're always trying to find those answers," Phillips said. "There's little variations in what they do, 'They're playing a little more of this than we thought,' or 'They're doing something that we haven't seen yet,' and that's when you really have to kind of dig deep. You try not to create new plays on the sideline. You're trying to find the ones that you already have in that will fit against that scheme and thing they're doing. It's a little bit different. Every week is like that. If you ever recorded our coaches' headsets, you wouldn't believe it. It's not calm. There's a lot of emotion, hyper-competitive people on the sidelines, and I'm lucky I get to be up in the box and shut off my mic and say, 'Did you hear this guy?' But every game is a challenge, and it's hard to win in this league."
Donatell on the defense closing out the Jets:
Minnesota improved to 9-0 on the season in one-score games, setting an NFL record for most wins in such games without a loss.
The Vikings did so by holding the Jets out of the end zone, despite New York running four plays inside the Minnesota 5-yard line after the 2-minute warning plus another red zone possession in the final minute that ended with Camryn Bynum's interception.
"Probably the most important thing team-wise is finishing, and as a coach, the most important thing in the day we live in with all these one-score games is, 'How do you finish?' That's what we're really good at. We're really good at crunch time and being sharp on assignments," Donatell said. "Last game, we're getting ready to go out, and sometimes Harrison Smith will say, 'What are you thinking?' Just to get call progression and so forth. We talked a little bit, and he said, 'We've been here before,' and smiled. That's a great sense as a coach because you know that he's confident and it breeds confidence to you.
"We had two drives at the end of that game, and I have to be honest with you, I'd rather have a two-score lead and have our offense out there grinding the ball, watching those guys at the end of the ball game, but the next most rewarding thing in coaching and competing is when it's on the line and it's on you," Donatell added. "It's the greatest high you can get as a competitor, and we've got the guys that are up to that. That's what's really cool for me. There was a lot of strategy going in and out, back and forth, coverage, run. Our defensive front, you can't say enough about those guys, the grit and toughness, and we had a long day, but they reached down inside and got that pushback that enabled us to get it to some pass downs at the end. The rush we got at the end and the coverage, you've got Cam Bynum, who took his preparation and visualized making that play. You've heard that story. That's really rewarding. It's just a calmness in execution at the end that makes you feel really good as a coach."
Daniels on Jalen Reagor's progress:
The Vikings were able to shore up their punt return job by trading to acquire Jalen Reagor from Philadelphia and have started to use him more on offense in recent weeks, whether on designed runs by the receiver or last Sunday when he reeled in a 38-yard reception.
"As these games start to come down the line, [Reagor] is going to have huge impacts, not only from the return standpoint, but also from the offensive standpoint," Daniels said. "He's definitely grown mentally, I would say, is the biggest thing for him, where his studies, his preparation, you're starting to see him a lot more involved."