One of Bill Belichick’s favorite compliments is to say “nobody works harder than (insert player’s name here).” He offered a quadruple-whammy Tuesday when asked about the development of wide receiver Chris Hogan.
“I think we have a very hard-working group of receivers,” the New England Patriots coach said in a conference call with reporters. “It’d be hard for me to pick out one. I’d say nobody works harder than Chris. But nobody works harder than (Matthew) Slater. Nobody works harder than (Julian) Edelman. Nobody works harder than (Danny) Amendola. They all work very hard.”
Hogan, who signed with the Patriots this past offseason after three seasons with the Buffalo Bills, enjoyed one of the best games of his career Sunday, catching four passes for a game- and career-high 114 yards in a 33-13 win over the Cleveland Browns.
Though five games, Hogan ranks second on the Patriots in receiving yards (236) and fourth in the NFL in yards per catch (19.7).
“There’s definitely a learning curve, but he’s done a good job with that,” Belichick said. “He’s tough, out there every day, really wants to get it right, work hard on the things that he needs to improve on. He’s very diligent about that. You know, working on those coaching points that (Patriots wide receivers coach Chad) O’Shea and (offensive coordinator Josh) McDaniels give to him.
“I think there’s still a ways to go. It’s not like we’re there yet. But he’s worked hard at it. He’s made a lot of progress, and he’s made a lot of big plays for us.”
Hogan isn’t exactly known as a deep threat, but he played that role against Cleveland, catching passes of 43 and 63 yards from quarterback Tom Brady. Those completions were the two longest of the day for Brady, who threw for 406 yards and three touchdowns in his first game back from suspension.
Some additional notes from Tuesday, which was an off-day for Patriots players:
— Cyrus Jones was ejected from Sunday’s game for throwing a punch at Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins. Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia briefly addressed the rookie cornerback’s ejection during his Tuesday morning conference call.
“Our basic statement and the way that we coach and the way that we always want (our players to play is), we have to stay penalty-free,” Patricia said. “We don’t want to get penalties, and we don’t want to do anything that’s going to hurt the team or cause the team to be in a bad situation. And certainly, defensively, we have to do a great job of making sure we don’t have those penalties, whatever the situation is. That’s really all I’m going to say about that.”
— Belichick shared an interesting story about his initial introduction to rookie linebacker Elandon Roberts, who had the most productive game of his young career Sunday.
When discussing Roberts’ skill set (an undersized linebacker with great speed who “plays bigger than his size”), Belichick referenced both London Fletcher and Ray Lewis, who have a combined 17 Pro Bowl selections between them.
“London Fletcher was a guy like that,” the coach said. “Probably another player that played bigger than his size. Explosiveness, ran well, instinctive. Ray Lewis, I think, got a lot bigger, but I remember when I worked him out at Miami, he wasn’t a big guy. He was about 225 at that point, 228, somewhere in there, you know, 6 feet. But he was an explosive player who ran very well, in the 4.65 range or something like that, 4.62 — somewhere in there.
“I’m not making a comparison to these players. You asked for guys that played bigger than their size. I would say those two.”
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images