WESTFIELD, Ind. — You couldn't have set up the start of Krishawn Hogan's rookie season much better.
He went undrafted, which is fine considering he went to (albeit dominated at) an NAIA school at Marian University. Hogan was actually the first Marian player ever invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, held annually in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium. Marian is also in Indianapolis, where Hogan, an alum of powerhouse Warren Center High School, is from.
Hogan's first stop in the NFL was a free agent contract with the Arizona Cardinals. He had some impressive moments there but did not survive the final post-training camp cuts.
Two days later, Hogan was signed by his hometown team, joining the Indianapolis Colts' practice squad.
Unfortunately, although he had made enough of an impression as a rookie to be elevated to the active roster by Week 4 of the regular season, his season came to and end just one week later.
Hogan tore an ACL on a freak special teams play against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 5. During a punt return, the ball was lateraled back to Hogan and he was twisted down to the turf, his knee giving in the process.
Throughout the team's offseason program, Hogan was one of a handful of players who could not participate in on-field drills with the rest of them team, instead getting in rehab work. One of those other players who had to sit out was quarterback Andrew Luck, who talked with Hogan about the pair returning to the field around the same time.
That time did come, as both were fully cleared for training camp. And just over a week in, both have been impressive. Hogan talked with the media on Thursday and was asked if Luck had any words of wisdom for Hogan while the pair were on the shelf this spring.
Having learned basically every angle of returning from a serious injury, Hogan said that Luck did have some advice.
"He had been out a lot longer than me, so he just said, 'Stick with it,' and to get the motion back," Hogan said.
"He said, 'the muscle will come, but if that thing's not moving how you want it and isn't as flexible as you want it, then you're gonna have pain.'"
Hogan obliged, taking his recovery wisely. On Wednesday, he was even able to shed the knee brace that he had been wearing the first several days of camp. Hogan said he already felt more freedom just by ditching the brace.
"Yeah — when I look down and don't see that brace — I think it's more of a mental thing," he said. "I moved good in it and I moved good without it, but I think it's that mental part of it, looking down and seeing that both my legs are the same, and that kind of helps me not think about it, and focus on more of the other technique, like getting lower."
Coincidence or not, that first practice without the brace was Hogan's most impressive day of camp to this point, as he made a couple of big-time catches in live drills late in practice.
Hogan is certainly happy to be playing football again and wants to prove the injury won't hold him back. However, his sole focus is on continuing with the team into September.
"I want to take that next step and make this team," Hogan said. "That's my goal."
This is a relatively open Colts receiver corps, so Hogan stands a chance. One reason for that is he feels he brings something a little different to the table than some of the team's other receivers.
"I'm a little bit different than a lot of our guys," Hogan said. "I'm a big-bodied guy but also want to play with speed. So, just want to have a lot of versatility out there and show that I can be that guy for us."
Hogan's offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni has taken notice as well, elaborating about the wide receiver, his recovery and what he brings to the table.
"I think with ACL tears, I just think you see improvement every day. I know last year I was with Keenan Allen, who came off of a knee injury in 2016. I would say it took him until about game four or game five until we were like, 'That's the Keenan Allen I know,'" Sirianni said. "I'm excited about Krishawn because I know there's more to come from him. He's doing a great job out here on the practice field. He's really mentally sharp. He knows how to get open. He knows how to use his big body. The exciting thing is that I know it takes a little bit of time. We know as a staff it takes a little bit of time to get back from those ACLs, and I'm excited to see that game four, game five and really what he can do and his potential."