Vikings TE T.J. Hockenson on future in Minnesota: ‘This is a place I want to be’
MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - T.J. Hockenson was a busy man Tuesday as the Minnesota Vikings hit the practice field for organized team activities at TCO Performance Center in Eagan.
Hockenson was running routes, catching passes from Kirk Cousins and working on run-blocking technique. Perhaps most importantly for him, he’s one of the veterans doing the voluntary workouts and getting to know his teammates after being a part of a 13-win team that won a division title last season, but had an early playoff exit.
"You’re always trying to win. Each competitor, you’ve got to put things aside and move on. That’s the whole thing in this locker room, guys in here, we want to win a championship. That’s no secret, but so does every other organization," Hockenson said after Tuesday’s practice. "So it’s putting things to bed, learning from things we did last year and continuing to get better from that. There’s nowhere to go but up, that’s the reality of it. We’re on the right track out here to do that."
It’s a big year for Hockenson. The No. 8 overall pick by the Detroit Lions in 2018, the Vikings traded a second round pick to get him almost halfway through last season after Irv Smith Jr. went down injured. Hockenson finished with 60 catches for 519 yards and three touchdowns, all while trying to learn a new offense and contribute to a playoff contender.
He’s in the final year of his current contract, but made it very clear he wants his future to be with the Vikings.
"That’s not really anything I’m focused on, it is what it is. I think that’s no secret that it’s coming up, but that’s not a focus that I’m worried about. I’m just out here playing football, having fun with the guys, really enjoying the city of Minneapolis and trying to get around those fans. This is a place I want to be, just everything needs to work out," Hockenson said. "I hope to be here for a long time, but on the same hand it is a business. It’s great to be here right now."
Hockenson stayed in Minnesota for much of the offseason, attending a Wild playoff game.
IS ALEXANDER MATTISON READY TO BE A LEAD RUNNING BACK?
With Dalvin Cook not at OTAs and the subject of trade rumors this offseason, Alexander Mattison was also a busy man Tuesday. He was the No. 1 running back during limited team sessions, catching passes out of the backfield and getting a few run plays.
If the Vikings trade or release Cook before mandatory mini camp next month, that leaves Mattison to be the Vikings’ No. 1 running back. Is he ready for it?
"It’s just a matter of time and the work will show for itself. It’s whatever position I’m in and whatever as the process goes on," Mattison said.
Has he thought about what it might be like not having Cook as a teammate? It would be different.
"We’ve been in the backfield together for four years, so of course we’re used to that. It’s part of the process," Mattison said.
The Vikings used a third round pick to add Mattison in 2019 as a complement to Cook. In 59 career games and six starts, he has 1,670 yards, 11 touchdowns and is averaging 4.1 yards per carry.
Mattison could’ve tested free agency and found a starting role elsewhere, but came back to the Vikings on a multi-year deal. He said it came down to talks with his agent, the right fit and a future chance at a starting role.
"It feels good, I’m happy, I love it here. I always told people I wouldn’t rather play anywhere else. It’s just an unbelievable organization, unbelievable locker room, team full of amazing guys. I’m blessed to be back," Mattison said.