Patriots

Hogan goes from student to potential teacher for newcomer like Decker

Hogan goes from student to potential teacher for newcomer like Decker

FOXBORO -- Chris Hogan knows what it's like to be the new guy. As an undrafted rookie in 2011, he made stops with the Niners and Giants before landing with the Dolphins and earning the nickname "7-Eleven" because he always seemed to be open. 

The next phase of his career brought him to Buffalo as a practice-squadder and then as an active-roster player. And when he became a restricted free agent in 2015, he signed with the Patriots. 

At 30 years old, entrenched as one of Tom Brady's most trusted options in the Patriots passing game, Hogan is no longer at a point in his career where it's a learn-the-playbook-or-see-yourself-out situation. But he remembers what that was like, and he's now taken on a mentorship kind of role for any of his teammates in the receiver room who may need him in that capacity. 

For someone like Eric Decker, who just attended his first practice as a member of the Patriots on Saturday, having experienced players like Julian Edelman and Hogan around could be particularly beneficial. 

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"Well, I’ve been in that position before," Hogan said Saturday. "You know, been in different offenses and then come to a new place and you know there’s a lot of information that probably gets thrown at you at once so you just kind of have to dissect that. Whatever best ways that they do that or you know, for me it was just kind of segmenting it out. And just answering any questions that he has. 

"So for a guy like Eric that’s been in the league for a while now, I’m sure he has a process of learning how he learns and he’s going to go about doing that the way that he does it. Just kind of be a guy that he can come to for questions and you know, give him answers the best way I can."

Decker got a few minutes of one-on-one time with Tom Brady following one period of practice, but Hogan explained that if Decker looks like he needs a hand at some point, he'd be willing to lend one. Hogan knows that if it hadn't been for players like Fred Jackson in Buffalo or Brian Hartline and Davone Bess in Miami that he might've ended up lost in those systems. 

"When you’re out there on the field and a day like today when we’re working kind of situationally and working on routes, stuff on the side, I think there’s a . . . You know you can tell that maybe if he’s not going to ask a question or he’s a little unsure on how to do things, try to be that guy in that room that’s going to – you know, 'This is how Tommy wants it done,' or, 'This is how we’ve been doing it in the past.' Because for someone who’s been on a couple different teams, they do it differently in different places so just kind of help him, show him the way of how we do it here."

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Decker has plenty of ground to make up since most others in the Patriots receiver room had all of the spring to pick up the offense. Hogan, Edelman, Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson and Kenny Britt (who hasn't yet practiced in full as he recovers from injury) all have a leg up on the former Broncos, Jets and Titans receiver in that regard.

Decker could be in competition with the likes of Malcolm Mitchell (rehabbing injury and unavailable for practice to this point), Riley McCarron, Paul Turner, Devin Lucien and rookie Braxton Berrios if the Patriots are willing to keep a fifth receiver on the active roster during the first four weeks of the regular season while Edelman is suspended. According to ESPN, Decker received $75,000 in guarantees on his deal with the Patriots, making the move to add the 31-year-old a low-risk proposition.

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NFL conference championships see ratings drop without Patriots

NFL conference championships see ratings drop without Patriots

Love 'em or hate 'em, the New England Patriots garner the attention of the masses.

That was evident during last year's AFC Championship game vs. the Kansas City Chiefs, when an average crowd of 53.9 million people tuned in to watch the Patriots win in an overtime thriller and advance to Super Bowl 53.

To put that into perspective, this year's late-window matchup between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers drew only 42.7 million viewers, per Austin Karp of Sports Business Daily.

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Of course, much of that discrepancy has to do with Pats-Chiefs being far more competitive than Packers-Niners. Plenty of viewers likely tuned out of the latter matchup when San Francisco led Green Bay 27-0 at halftime.

Even so, it just goes to show how much more attention is paid to the NFL playoffs when Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the rest of New England is involved. This year's AFC Championship featuring the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs marked the first without the Patriots since 2011, and it was the smallest audience (41.1 million) for an AFC title game in 11 years.

In comparison, the early game in 2019 (Los Angeles Rams vs. New Orleans Saints) averaged roughly 44 million.

The Chiefs and 49ers will meet in Miami for Super Bowl 54. It'll be interesting to see how those ratings compare to last year's Patriots-Rams matchup.

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George Kittle celebrated Super Bowl berth with hilarious Jimmy Garoppolo shirt

George Kittle celebrated Super Bowl berth with hilarious Jimmy Garoppolo shirt

George Kittle had a little fun with his quarterback after the San Francisco 49ers beat the Green Bay Packers in Sunday night's NFC Championship Game to clinch a berth in Super Bowl LIV.

The All-Pro tight end showed up to his postgame press conference with a custom t-shirt that included a shirtless photo and autograph of 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

Check it out in the tweet below:

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Garoppolo was asked by reporters about Kittle's shirt, and he couldn't hold back his laughter.

“I got him earlier in the week with a shirt, showed it to the media and everything, so he had to get me back a little bit," a smiling Garoppolo said, per 95.7 The Game. "I thought it was a nice shirt he had on. Maybe we’ll get them in the team store soon.”

Garoppolo is no stranger to the Super Bowl. He made two Super Bowl appearances with the New England Patriots as Tom Brady's backup, and in two weeks he'll make his first start on that stage.

The 49ers quarterback hasn't had to play at an elite level for his team to reach the Super Bowl, but that should change in Miami on Feb. 2. The AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs have an offense that looks unstoppable right now, so Garoppolo likely will need to play one of his best games as a pro to give San Francisco a strong chance to win its sixth Lombardi Trophy in franchise history.

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