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Joining Patriots 'surreal' for Hogan

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When told he's been referred to as "a prototypical Patriot," he chuckled and said he didn't know what that meant, but the answer Chris Hogan went on to provide demonstrates that the label affixed to him just might be spot-on.

"I'm here to help this team in any way possible," stated the newly-inked wide receiver, who signed with the Patriots last week after three-plus seasons with AFC East rival Buffalo. "I'll do whatever it takes to get on the field, and whatever is asked of me and needed of me, I'm willing to do… and I hope I'm able to do that. I don't know how I'm going to fit into this offense just yet. I'm looking forward to getting up to Foxborough… obviously my role will be more defined as I start progressing and learning.

"Special teams has always been part of me as a player," Hogan added. "I've always taken a lot of pride in playing special teams. That's how I made my first roster [in Buffalo]. I was a core special teamer. Hopefully, for the Patriots, I'm able to contribute a lot on special teams."

Hogan's three-year deal with New England is said to be worth $12 million – a relatively modest price in today's NFL, but astronomical considering the unorthodox and unlikely path Hogan trod to make it to Foxborough.

"It's been an incredible journey to get to this point," he acknowledged, "a lot of bumps in the road, had to work very hard to get to where I am today. Still have to keep working just as hard as I was. It's been a long road."

As a lacrosse player growing up in New Jersey, Hogan always had a dream to play college football. He attended one of the biggest college football powerhouses, Penn State, on a lacrosse scholarship, however. So, upon graduation in 2010, he decided to make his pigskin dream a reality by enrolling at Monmouth University in his home state.

The 6-1, 220-pound Hogan pointed out that hand-eye coordination, field awareness, and being able to move in the open field to dodge opponents are some of the ways in which his two favorite sports overlap.

After just one season at Monmouth, Hogan impressed NFL scouts enough to get a chance with the San Francisco 49ers in 2011. He was in the Niners' camp until final cuts, then signed to the New York Giants practice squad, where he lasted less than two weeks. He was out of work until December of that year, when the Miami Dolphins placed him on their practice squad. He remained with Miami through the following season's training camp, signed to the Dolphins' practice squad again, only to be released from it in September of 2012. Two months later, the Bills scooped him up to fill out their practice squad, and in December he was promoted to Buffalo's active roster, where he thrived over the next three seasons.

"Those practice squad years," recalled Hogan, "really helped shape me into the football player I am today. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. It helped me transition into the NFL and learn how to be a pro."

Hogan's first NFL touchdown came in 2014, coincidentally against the Patriots, which makes it all the more special for him to be a member of the organization today. He said New England was the first team to express interest in him this offseason when he became a free agent.

Perhaps it's no surprise. Head coach Bill Belichick is an ardent lacrosse fan. His son, Stephen, a coaching assistant on the Patriots staff today, played the sport at Rutgers and Hogan remembers facing off against the younger Belichick.

Nevertheless, he still finds it difficult to comprehend that he was on New England's radar screen.

"When I got the call that the Patriots were interested, it was a very surreal feeling. I've always looked up to them, watching them play. They've been a team that has a long history of winning. Just to be considered a part of this team is a great honor. I'm still letting it all sink in because this is an awesome opportunity for me."  

His background aside, Hogan faces a historical challenge with his new team as well. Not many wide receivers – even some really good ones – have been able to come to this offense and earn the trust of future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady. Hogan insists he'll work hard to be one of the exceptions.

"I know that communication is huge in this league, and especially with Tom. This process of signing with the Patriots really has just unfolded. So, I'm looking forward to getting in the building and being around the guys, getting to know the guys and Tom. It's all very exciting for me.

"I've grown so much since I started in this league," Hogan remarked, "and every single year, I'm always growing, always learning. I tell people sometimes that I'm still new to this sport and I like to approach it that way. There's still so much for me to learn and grow. Every year's a chance for me to see how much I've grown and how I can get better as a football player, as a receiver, and overall team player."

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