Hogan on slot receiver role: 'I have to see what Tom sees'

Hogan on slot receiver role: 'I have to see what Tom sees'

NEW ORLEANS - No Patriots player spent more time operating out of the slot than Chris Hogan in the season-opening loss to Kansas City. Of Hogan’s 73 snaps, 29 came out of that coveted spot in the offense, yet the production was virtually nonexistent. 


Hogan caught one pass for a measly eight yards. Contrast that with Danny Amendola, who couldn’t make it through the third quarter. The ultra-quick Amendola ended up with four catches on five targets working out of the slot. So much for Hogan making up for Julian Edelman’s absence, at least for one week.

I asked Hogan about the difference between lining up in the slot as a primary target versus last season, when the Bills castoff spent a fraction of that time functioning in that role. 

“I’m comfortable there, for sure, and confident there as well,” he told me. “The biggest difference for me is some of the reads you have to make at the line of scrimmage and once you release. I have to see what Tom [Brady] sees.”

That’s a critical piece for any offensive player in this system: thinking and see what Brady does, or else...

“Tom demands a lot. He’s our leader,” said Hogan, quickly adding, “but I expect as much out of myself as anyone else could. I know I have to be better. If I’m better, it helps everyone.”

Hogan was like the rest of his teammates, disappointed with the way the opener went. He was also not willing to offer excuses, even when I offered one up, saying the offense did put up 27 points through three quarters.

“It wasn’t good enough,” he said matter-of-factly. “We believe we are better than that and believe we will play better than that. But it does no good to talk about it. We just have to do it.”

Bill Belichick wouldn’t offer much on Hogan’s work in the opener, but it would be surprising to see the Pats turn away from that so quickly. Besides, a few members of the offense indicated some surprise at Chiefs corner Marcus Peters drawing Hogan so much. This Sunday’s opponent, the Saints, don’t have a player of Peters' pedigree. Not yet at least.

“We all have a lot of work to do after the first game,” said Belichick, seemingly speaking for all facets of his team’s play, not the slot position in particular. “So, I don’t think any of us are where we want to be or need to be.”

Based on the way the Saints played defense in their opener, there’s a real opportunity for the Pats' offense to improve its efficiency and - in turn - its effectiveness. Expect Hogan to play a big part in that. 


Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

None of us thought Johnson Bademosi would be starting this past Sunday at MetLife Stadium against the Jets because -- well -- that’s not what we perceive the 27-year-old to be. He’s a special teamer. It’s how he’s made his mark in the NFL dating back to 2012 with Cleveland. So why would that change in mid-October for a team he’s only been with for six weeks? Because Bademosi is -- and has always been -- intent on proving he’s more than a niche player.

“I see myself as a football player,” he said, “and whatever position they put me in, I’m going to try to be the best because that’s how I operate and who I am as a person. Whether that’s as a cornerback, on special teams, if they ask me to play wildcat quarterback. Whatever…”


Bill Belichick and his staff asked for Bademosi to go on the field and not come off. He played 73 defensive snaps in addition to his usual core four special teams duties. 

“I felt like I played a whole game,” Bademosi joked, before saying, “I love playing football so I’m going to go out there and empty myself.”

He did just that, getting targeted only two times in the 24-17 win over the Jets. It was hoped that Bademosi would return to his normal specialist role, but with Stephon Gilmore still out with a concussion, it now seems more and more likely that the sixth year pro will have to be an ironman again Sunday night in primetime against the Falcons. Historically, the Pats have defended bigger receivers. That means Bademosi may be responsible for one of the most dangerous players in the league, Julio Jones.

“He’s an amazing player," he said. “We all know what he’s capable of. As a defense, we have to be prepared for him.”

The Pats were on Super Bowl Sunday and Jones still made a couple of ridiculous plays with either Logan Ryan or Eric Rowe in coverage with safety help over the top.

“He’s fast. He’s physical. He can jump. He can run. He’s smart. He’s everything you want in a wide receiver,” said Bademosi without blinking an eye. That’s the kind of confidence you want from a player at that position and facing this type of challenge. 

“You gotta believe in yourself,” he said “ I’m confident in my abilities. I work hard and trust my preparation.”

Being an elite athlete certainly helps. Bademosi was a scholarship football player at Stanford -- “some guy named Jim Harbaugh called” -- before ending up in the NFL. But it’s Bademosi’s willingness to go all in in the film room that impressed safety Devin McCourty. 

“…I think, honestly, the most work he did was probably with just himself jumping into the film, watching more stuff to exactly see,” said McCourty Thursday. “You know, when you’re a backup more, you’re kind of trying to see everything because you don’t know what role you might be thrust upon once you’re in the game. But, I think once he knew he was starting, it was kind of like, ‘Alright, let me focus in on this.’ I thought he did an awesome job of just being ready and competing.”

Bademosi will have to compete his ass off Sunday night, even against what has been to this point a physically compromised Jones. Based on what he did several days ago, there’s no reason to believe the Pats cornerback won’t bring everything he has, trying to prove again that he’s more than just a special teams whiz.