Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone will be reunited with one of his favorite players this weekend: New England Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan.
Marrone, who coached Hogan in Buffalo during the 2013 and 2014 seasons, showered the wideout with praise Wednesday in a conference call ahead of Sunday’s AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium.
“I’m a huge Chris Hogan fan,” Marrone said. “He came (to Buffalo as) a free agent, and I know when I was there with the offensive staff — and even the defensive coaches — we loved him. We were getting him in there and getting him ready, and he did a great job for us on special teams. That was a way for us to get him up on the roster, and then he did a great job developing into an outstanding receiver.”
Hogan, an undrafted free agent who bounced around the league early in his career, made his NFL debut for Buffalo in 2013, Marrone’s first year as Bills head coach. He played in all 48 games for the Bills over the next three seasons, catching 87 passes for 959 yards and six touchdowns while also starring on special teams.
After becoming a restricted free agent following the 2015 season, Hogan was snatched up by the Patriots, who have pilfered several players from Buffalo in recent years. He posted career numbers (38 catches, 680 yards, four touchdowns) in 2016 for the Super Bowl-winning Pats and appeared well on his way to surpassing them this season before a shoulder injury forced him to miss seven of New England’s final eight games.
Hogan returned to action last weekend and caught a touchdown in the Patriots’ divisional-round win over the Tennessee Titans. He’s expected to start Sunday against Marrone’s Jaguars.
“It was great to see him up there (in New England),” said Marrone, who joined Jacksonville in 2015 and took over as head coach midway through last season. “I’m not surprised about his production or anything of that nature, because he has shown that before. I can’t say enough about that kid. I love him.”
Marrone also had high praise for Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore, another former Bill, who had an excellent game against Tennessee, allowing zero catches and breaking up two passes.
“I know that for us, he was very physical,” Marrone said. “He was able to get his hands on you. He’d be able to shut you down. In our (third)-to-last game in Green Bay (in 2014), he played an outstanding game against Jordy Nelson, who’s obviously Aaron Rodgers’ big target. He was a big reason why we won that game. He can take someone out of a game, and he can lock somebody down. …
“He wanted to be the best, and you see that in his play. He’s one of the best corners out there.”