Wide receiver Chris Hogan was given the nickname “7-eleven” at Miami Dolphins training camp in 2012 by his teammate at the time, running back Reggie Bush.
Why “7-eleven”? Because he was always open.
Signed Friday by Carolina to a one-year deal, Hogan wants to show he’s “open” in a different way, too — open to any type of receiving position offensive coordinator Norv Turner has in mind, that is.
“(D.J. Moore, Christian McCaffrey and Cam Newton), those three guys are a bunch of playmakers,” he said. “I think this team has a lot of weapons on the field at all times ... Any new system, new team that I come into, my expectations for myself are really just to come in, take advantage of the opportunity that I have been given and any opportunities I’m given on the field, work as hard as I can.
“If you do that, and you’re able to be successful on and off the field — in the classroom and at practice — you kind of go about proving yourself and your worth as a player. And if you’re capable of going out there and making plays, the rest will take care of itself.”
Prior to his last three years in New England, Hogan played three seasons for Buffalo (2013-15), where he had 87 catches for 959 yards and six touchdowns. He was used in a variety of receiving positions, and played special teams.
This spring was Hogan’s first time as an unrestricted free agent, and he admitted the experience at times was a bit perplexing.
“We didn’t think it was going to last as long as it did,” he said, laughing. “But I enjoyed my family time, and time spent with the kids has always been nice.
“When I had the opportunity to come down here and sign with Carolina, I was just really excited about the opportunity.”
In Carolina, Hogan will likely get most of his snaps as an outside receiver, complementing the versatility and rotation of second-year receiver Moore and third-year receiver Curtis Samuel, and getting looks as a middle-to-deep range threat.
Hogan averaged 15.3 yards per catch during his years in New England and tied with Desean Jackson in 2016 for the league lead in yards per catch with 17.9. He also has some experience in the slot.
The point is, he wants to fit in wherever he can.
“I’ve always been a guy who does everything 100 percent, and I’ve played special teams every single year,” he said. “Just willing and able to do whatever I can to help the football team win. And I’m just excited to be down here with the Panthers, hopefully I can do that.”
The Panthers did not try to re-sign receiver Devin Funchess this spring, creating some need to replace Funchess’ 500-odd yards as Moore shifts into a No. 1 receiver role.
Hogan’s 2018 stats could immediately supplement that loss. He had 532 yards and three touchdowns off 35 catches.
But he hopes to have an even better year this fall.
“I think my main goal and my main focus is to come down here and work as hard as I can, (with a) new team, a new organization and another chance for me to prove myself,” he said. “And prove to these guys that I can be a valuable part to this team and help them win football games any way I can.”