Patriots gridiron news: Chris Hogan back in the mix for the playoffs

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 7: Chris Hogan /

The New England Patriots received some good news on Thursday as wide receiver Chris Hogan has been cleared to play in the divisional-round matchup.

The Tennessee Titans will have their hand full against the New England Patriots offense in Saturday’s AFC divisional-round playoff game at Gillette Stadium.

Not only will the Titans’ defense have the challenge of slowing Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Brandin Cooks, Dion Lewis and James White, they will have to account for Chris Hogan.

Hogan, who missed seven of the final eight games of the regular season due to a shoulder injury, was removed from the injury report for the first time since Oct. 29.  His return not only adds depth to the Patriots wide receiver depth chart, but Brady is getting one of his top targets back, which makes his passing attack that much more difficult to defend.

With Gronkowski and Cooks on the field, Hogan should draw single coverage.  Let’s not forget that before he went down with his shoulder injury, the former Lacrosse player was on pace for a career season. During his first eight games, he caught 33 passes for 438 yards and five touchdowns.

Hogan became key in the Patriots’ offense with the loss of Julian Edelman prior to the 2017 season.  With an increased role, he produced and the type of production he could provide should definitely help a Tom Brady led crew that have struggled a bit towards the end of the season.

Given how Chris Hogan performed during last year’s playoff run, including a 180-yard receiving performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game, his experience contributing during big moments should factor in on what he gives the offense this time around.

Kenny Britt not much help vs. former team

While the Tennessee Titans have a couple former Patriots on their team in Logan Ryan and Josh Kline, the Patriots do have a former Titan player in Kenny Britt.

The Patriots picked up the veteran wide receiver towards the end of the season after he was waived by the Cleveland Browns, but don’t expect Britt to provide much information on his former team.

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"“I’ve been removed for so long,” Britt said, via Patriots Wire.  “It’s a totally different coaching staff from there.  I really wouldn’t know anything.  I’d be selling them hopes and dreams.  I don’t have any input.  I probably only know the equipment managers there and the weight room staff.”"

Britt last played in Tennessee in 2013. Although he wouldn’t be able to provide any insight on his former team, he could still hurt them on the field.  He has yet to provide any major production to the Patriots’ offense, but he has the talent to be a factor if he develops any chemistry with Tom Brady.

Patriots have perfect practice attendance 

The New England Patriots will enter Saturday night’s matchup the healthiest they have been all season.

Not only is Chris Hogan, Kyle Van Noy, Rex Burkhead and Alan Branch likely to go in the AFC Divisional Round matchup, but Mike Gillislee, Malcolm Mitchell and Marquis Flowers all returned to practice on Thursday.

Next: New England Patriots: A history of diverse Divisional Round opponents

The player to watch here is Mitchell.  The second-year wide receiver has missed the entire regular season due to a knee injury.  If he is to make his 2017 debut on Saturday, the team would need to activate him to the 53-man roster by Friday afternoon.