New England Patriots WR Chris Hogan missed Friday’s practice with a back injury and the Herald’s Jeff Howe has the latest report on Hogan’s possible status on Sunday.
“Chris Hogan is truly questionable for Sunday with his back issue, per source,” Howe tweets. “Will undergo treatment around the clock. Too soon to know. Hogan's back flared up yesterday and he's been undergoing treatment since. Lots of pain. Could respond well in 48 hours. No certainty. Hogan's back is not characterized as a long-term deal. Just tough to assess his status this late in the week.”
If Hogan is unavailable to play, rookie WR Malcolm Mitchell will likely take his place. Alternatively, the Patriots might not have Hogan in their dink-and-dunk game plan against the Seahawks so WR Danny Amendola might offer more value out of the slot.
Hogan has been a revelation for the Patriots this season, collected 19 catches for 391 yards and 2 touchdowns. His 20.6 yards per catch is the best for a Patriots wide receiver (min. 15 receptions) in the Bill Belichick era.
Hogan’s success in the Patriots offense isn’t a surprise to Belichick, though. Howe also has a wonderful story on how the Patriots went about scouting Hogan and bringing the receiver into the fold. Howe notes four distinct phases between the Patriots and Hogan.
Phase 1: The Patriots apparently considered Hogan “a priority” in free agency. The Patriots also wanted a pair of Bengals receivers in now-Lions WR Marvin Jones and now-Falcons WR Mohamed Sanu. Two former Patriots executives are general managers for the Lions and Falcons so the shared interest isn’t a surprise; the Patriots were outpriced for Jones and Sanu and turned focus to Hogan.
The Patriots “studied far more than his statistical output,” Howe writes. “The Pats’ scouting department recognized a detailed route runner and dedicated run blocker who finished every play. His pure speed showed up on special teams, particularly in coverage, but Hogan also burnt safety Patrick Chung for a 42-yard catch last season, which was his longest catch allowed in 2015. The Pats also liked Hogan’s toughness to play through torn wrist ligaments for a month.”
“The Patriots believed Hogan could play every receiver position within their system,” Howe adds. “So the Pats were both creative and confident in his ability to grasp their complex playbook.”
Phase 2: Director of player personnel Nick Caserio set up a meeting with Hogan and Belichick talked with Hogan about lacrosse (Hogan was a lacrosse player at Penn State). Hogan thought he would fit in with the coaching staff.
Phase 3: The Patriots had to construct an offer the Bills couldn’t match. The Patriots whiffed on signing then-Steelers WR Emmanuel Sanders as a restricted free agent and now Sanders is arguably a top 10 wide receiver in the NFL for the Broncos. Belichick and Caserio couldn’t miss again. The Patriots gave Hogan an offer that led him to cancel his other visits.
Phase 4: Hogan dominated in camp and turned that into trust with the quarterbacks and production in the regular season.
Hopefully Hogan will be ready to go against the Seahawks, although his long term health should be a priority. The Patriots are uniquely set up to take advantage of the Seahawks defense with Julian Edelman and Amendola, along with the tight end duo of Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett, so Hogan would just be a bonus.