Chris Hogan shifts from rehab approach to game plan

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Before New England Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan injured his right shoulder at the end of the team’s victory over the Los Angeles Chargers on Oct. 29, he had been one of the team’s few skill-position players who had played more than 90 percent of the offensive snaps.

That reflected, in part, his importance to the team’s attack.

Now, after missing four games, Hogan is hoping to return to action Monday night against the Miami Dolphins, and his return to health is timely because the Patriots are without tight end Rob Gronkowski, who is serving a one-game NFL suspension for his late hit on Bills cornerback Tre'Davious White.

WR Chris Hogan, who returned to practice for the first time since injuring his shoulder Oct. 29, says today felt like the first day of school for him.

Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer ago

Hogan drew a large media crowd in the locker room Wednesday after participating in his first practice since the injury and said, "Today was like the first day of school for me, getting back out there on the field. I was excited to be out there."

Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels probably felt the same way.

McDaniels’ options have been limited in recent weeks without Hogan. He has had to get creative with his two-receiver attack, using Brandin Cooks and Phillip Dorsett at times and then turning to a Cooks/Danny Amendola combo in specific situations, such as in the red zone. Also, McDaniels couldn’t call on a four-receiver package because the team didn’t have four healthy receivers on the 46-man game-day roster.

That could be an option Monday night, although Hogan stopped short of guaranteeing his presence against the Dolphins, referring to his status as "day to day" while noting his shift away from a rehabilitation mindset by saying he is "just trying to prepare myself to play in the game."

"I’ve been out for 4-5 weeks here, so I’m pretty excited to get back out there, game speed, and be out there with those guys," he said. "It’s been fun to watch, but it’s more fun to be out there with them playing."

Hogan, who has 33 catches for 438 yards with five touchdowns this season, said feeling sorry for himself wasn’t an option.

"It is one of those things you have to kind of accept it happens. It’s football. It’s going to continue to happen," he said. "I was just trying to stay on top of my conditioning and make sure that I didn’t lose anything coming back."