Chris Hogan: Helping if Josh Gordon has questions is part of being a leader on Patriots


FOXBORO -- The risk seems minimal. The cost? Next to nothing. The upside? Massive.

So what issue could anyone have with the Patriots bringing in an all-world talent like Josh Gordon for a fifth-round pick?

Rob Ninkovich brought up an interesting point from a player's perspective on this week's Ex-Pats Podcast: There exists a possibility that Gordon's addition could have an effect on those in the Patriots locker room.

Here's how Ninkovich reacted to the trade for Gordon after saying earlier in the day on Monday -- before the trade was announced -- that bringing in Gordon wasn't a move he would pursue. 

"Me saying I didn’t agree with the move, it’s not me saying I didn’t agree with the talent," Ninkovich explained. "The talent is there. I don’t agree with sometimes people that have talent beyond belief, they have more talent than anything you could imagine, but they don’t do anything the right way and they continue to get opportunities. Eventually you start to look at it like, 'Well, why the hell am I working so hard?' "

Put yourself in the shoes of another Patriots receiver, for instance. In comes a player with enough God-given ability to be one of the great wideouts in the game. If it doesn't work out, no sweat off your back. But if it does, and Gordon becomes a No. 1 type of receiver, that would impact your workload. 

"Does that," Ninkovich asked, "affect anyone else that's been here for a long time, mentally? When you used to be the guy and now you're running the routes to get him open?" 


Chris Hogan, it seems, is in a tough spot with the Gordon acquisition. 

On the one hand, he wants to be a good teammate. He said he's willing to help Gordon get acclimated. That's something he's done as the Patriots have brought in receiver after receiver this year to find that position some depth. 

"Just do what I've been doing," Hogan explained Wednesday when asked what he can do for Gordon. 

"Guys have questions, I'm always available, always around. Always try to help guys when they have those questions. Whether it's big or small, it doesn't really matter. I've always been a guy . . . I was one of those guys that had a lot of questions so I try to help any way I can. Be a leader in the room."

On the other hand, Hogan is in a contract year. The addition of Gordon could negatively impact Hogan's statistical line this season, which could impact his bottom line. 

Hogan played 55 of 61 snaps in what felt like 100-degree heat in Jacksonville last weekend, catching two second-half touchdown passes. Less than 24 hours later, news had broken that he had a new teammate.

"Hogan, for example," Ninkovich said, "if he continues to have the production that he has, his pay would be affected by somebody else coming in and taking those routes, and him not catching those touchdown passes, and him not having that production for his next contract. Right? 

"I would be like, 'OK, I was going to be the guy. I caught two touchdown passes. You continue on this, this season, OK, let's say I end the season with eight touchdowns. It's a lot different than two when I'm looking for a new contract.' "

Someone like Hogan has had a career that has been the antithesis of Gordon's.


Fight for jobs on multiple teams and practice squads. Ask questions. Scrap for a role, somewhere, anywhere, offense, kicking game. Wherever. Doesn't matter. Do everything you can to prove to coaches that you're reliable. Ask questions. Lead by example. Ring out every last drop of talent you have into a team-issued bucket. Go run some hills. Do it again.

Asked if Gordon, who arrived to town on Tuesday, had come to Hogan with any questions just yet, Hogan said, "No. Not really." 

There's still time. Gordon is likely being tutored by his coaches at the moment as Hogan and others at the position prep for Detroit. 

And just because the Gordon acquisition doesn't necessarily jive with some team mantras -- do your job; no days off; dependability is more important than ability -- doesn't mean that it's inconsistent with all of them. Far from it. 

Bill Belichick often reminds reporters that it's not how you got to Foxboro, it's what you do when you get to Foxboro that matters. The phrase "do what's best for the football team" is one of his staples. 

Given those, given the need the Patriots have at the position, given the rare skill set Gordon possesses, given the cost to get him, it's hard to argue the logic behind the acquisition.

Still, these moves don't happen in a vacuum, which Ninkovich pointed out soon after the deal was struck. 

"Now that it's done, it's a done deal. Now, it's prove it," Ninkovich said. "Prove it to me. At first, I didn't agree with it. Now? 'OK, you're my teammate? Prove it to me. I want to see you grind. I want to see you work. I want to see you be the hardest-working guy on the field. Learn the play book and just get out there and produce.' 

"Because guess what? The only thing that people respect in this league is production. If you get paid a lot of money and you don't produce, people don't respect you. It's all about respect -- from your peers and everybody else that looks at you and says, 'Are you doing the right things?' "


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