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Receiver Chris Hogan made impact in first game with New Orleans Saints

'It's been a little while since I've gotten in the end zone. It's been a few years'


If we're doing memory-lane strolls, Chris Hogan has a pretty interesting one.

Before the New Orleans Saints receiver caught his 10-yard touchdown pass from Jameis Winston on the third quarter of the Saints' 38-3 victory over Green Bay in the season opener – giving New Orleans a three-touchdown lead – he'd last caught a pass in a regular-season game on Oct. 11, 2020, for the Jets against Arizona.

For his last touchdown in an NFL game, walk back a little more, to Dec. 16, 2018, for New England against Pittsburgh.

So Sunday's score was special for Hogan, who, after being waived from injured reserve by the Jets last December, joined the Premier Lacrosse League in February and played that sport until the PLL season ended. He signed with New Orleans on July 26, and caught one of five touchdown passes by the Saints in the season opener.

New Orleans plays Carolina on Sunday at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.

"It was pretty incredible," Hogan said of the touchdown. "It's been a little while since I've gotten in the end zone. It's been a few years.

"To be able to make a play in a game like that, first game of the season where we're trying to find our identity and build on the team that we have, I was pretty excited. I was very fortunate to be in that position and was thrilled to make a play for the team."

Hogan, a 10-year veteran and two-time Super Bowl champion, was a valuable addition to the Saints' receiver room. He brought with him the added perspective of being an undrafted rookie. Undrafted players caught four of Winston's five touchdown passes, and accounted for eight of New Orleans' 15 receptions.

He said the Saints' efficiency in the red zone (4 for 4) was impressive against the Packers, as was the offense in general. New Orleans totaled 322 yards, and took advantage of the field position that was provided by the defense.

"I think all game long we moved the ball very well," he said. "The guys up front looked great. Jameis made all of the throws he had, and the receivers caught all the opportunities we had. We played complementary football on offense, defense, and special teams. All three phases complementing each other and building off of each other is what you look for on Sundays.

"Our defense put us in good positions where we didn't have to move the ball all the way down the field a couple of times. Everything was kind of going our way. We did really well in the red zone. Coach (Sean) Payton made some really good calls on third and fourth down and we were able to convert some big plays. I think there's a lot of good things to build off of and move forward."

Hogan said offensively, there's much confidence to be gained when a team's defense plays as well as the Saints' did against the Packers.

"A tremendous amount," he said. "We were playing complementary football. When you have all three phases playing together and complementing each other, that's what you're looking for on Sundays.

"Whenever you're able to create good field position on special teams and create shorter fields on defense by causing turnovers or not letting them drive down the field, and giving the offense a short field to work with, those things are what builds a tremendous amount of confidence in a team throughout a game. And I think it builds a tremendous amount of confidence going into (Sunday's game). That is something that we have to continue to work on.

"That doesn't just happen when you show up on Sundays. We're going to have to turn the page and get back to work. This was week one against a good quarterback (Aaron Rodgers) that we played. Now we have to go down to Carolina and play them. Hopefully, we can have the same result. That's something we're going to continue to work on and come ready to play every single week."

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