Every team in the league speaks about having a man up a mantra in any given season, but few teams can say they have applied it more than the Detroit Lions in 2021.
Forced once again to insert new players into the mix due to catastrophic injuries, the Lions continue to stretch the limits of their depth chart this season. That’s going to happen again this week as wideouts have to find a way to compensate for the unfortunate loss of Quintez Cephus.
The latest Lions news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Lions newsletter here!
One of those wideouts is KhaDarel Hodge, who was signed off waivers and has only been with the Lions for the better part of a month. Now, the pressure is on Hodge to make plays given all that has happened above him on the depth chart with regard to injuries.
Speaking with the media on Wednesday, October 13 in an interview posted to DetroitLions.com, Hodge talked about his opportunity, and as he said, he is ready to relish the chance to see more playing time and make things happen.
“I’m very excited. That’s why I came here. I wanted to prove I was not just a special teams player and I could make plays. Now it’s on me to step up and show what I can do,” Hodge said to the media.
Hodge doesn’t have much experience in the league to this point, but that doesn’t matter to him now given the opportunity he has. As he explained, it doesn’t matter what others on the outside think about the group, it all comes from the motivation they carry to get the job done.
It’s on us. We got to go out and make plays. We got to prove to them we are who we say we are. We got to continue to work. We don’t really pay attention to what people say,” Hodge said. “We know what we can do. Time will tell. We go out there and make the plays like we’re supposed to and the script flips. This week, we go out there and start making plays, and we’ll see what they say again.”
The pressure will be on all of the wideouts to step up, and it’s nice to hear Hodge accepting responsibly and explaining what has to happen.
Hodge Believes Experience With Jared Goff Will Pay off
Hodge came to the Lions from Cleveland, which makes him an outsider to the offense. Many forget, however, that he did have a track record with Goff from his time in Los Angeles. That experience could come in handy for Detroit as the pair tries to adjust on the fly following Hodge being inserted into the lineup.
“That’s big for me and him. My rookie year I didn’t get much play, I was special teams,” Hodge said. “I was behind some pretty good guys at the time. The time we did have together, it worked out a lot. It’ll show when we get together and play.”
Hodge was a preseason wideout with the Rams, which means he will understand how Goff’s ball comes out and what is expected for him in terms of timing and route running. While this is a small thing, it could loom large for the Lions considering all the inexperienced players at wideout currently on the team.
Already, the duo has hooked up for an unexpected two-point conversion, so it will be important to see whether experience plays a role for the Lions again with this offensive connection.
Hodge’s Stats and Highlights
Originally out of Prairie View A&M, Hodge has the small-school background that so many wide receivers have maintained through the years en-route to becoming big time targets at the next level. He originally signed with the Los Angeles Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2018, and played in 14 regular season games his rookie year, playing a key special teams role when the Rams went to the Super Bowl. After being cut, Hodge went to Cleveland, where he played in all 16 games for the team in 2019. He returned in 2020 and would finish with 180 yards receiving for the team. This season, he was a victim of a deep depth chart at wideout. In total, he has 17 receptions and 273 receiving yards in his short NFL career.
A look at Hodge’s highlights show the type of player who could be ready for more action in Detroit and to take his career to the next step:
Hodge will now get his shot to shine in Detroit where he will be tasked with stepping in and producing right away. It sounds as if he is motivated to find a way to get this done.