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Hogan makes practice debut


CHARLOTTE – To help him determine how close cornerback Brandon Hogan is to being ready to help the Panthers, head coach Ron Rivera planned to carefully watch tape of Hogan's first practice.

Rivera, however, already had a pretty good mental picture of what Hogan did in his debut Wednesday.

"Every time he was on the field, I think we were all watching him," Rivera said. "It was exciting to watch him on the practice field."

Hogan, the team's fourth-round draft pick out of West Virginia, has been on the Physically Unable to Perform list since the season began.

Now that Hogan is practicing, the Panthers can choose to add him to the active roster at any point between now and Nov. 9. If they do not activate him by then, Hogan will essentially be shut down for the season, unable to participate in any games or practices until the offseason.

Hogan said he was pain-free in his first pro practice. He's working to come back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee suffered in West Virginia's final regular season game last December.

"It felt all right," Hogan said. "I was trying to not think about it, just trying to go out there and do what I had to do."

He added: "They were anxious to get me out there, and I was anxious to get out there."

Hogan was rated among the best cover corners in the April draft, but the injury concerns and off-the-field questions afforded Carolina the opportunity to wait until the third day to select such a talent, selecting him 98th overall.


"He showed flashes of why we wanted to pick him," Rivera said. "You see the explosiveness coming out of his break. A couple of times he rounded it because he wasn't quite sure, and he took his eyes off the receiver one time and gave a little separation.

"He's got a ways to go in terms of working his way back with his techniques and stuff like that, but he seemed to handle some of the stuff we were doing on the defensive side. We also worked him a little bit on special teams in the coverage unit. He looked pretty good."

Once up to speed, Hogan could enhance a secondary that gives up the 11th-fewest passing yards per game (219.0) but that has allowed opposing quarterbacks the fourth-highest average passer rating (99.8) while picking off just three passes – all by safeties.

"He can be a good corner in this league, a physical corner that will play the ball well," said Captain Munnerlyn, a starter at corner along with Chris Gamble. "It was his first practice, so he was a little rusty. He's got to shake the cobwebs out a little bit, but it looks like he's got a lot of potential."

Munnerlyn and Co. had seen plenty of Hogan in the vicinity of the practice field before Wednesday. Day after day, he's worked with strength and conditioning coach Joe Kenn, trying to get back into playing condition.

"It was hard to deal with, being out that long, being around football but not being able to do some of the things the other guys were doing," Hogan said. "But my teammates helped me out a lot and kept me in good spirits when I was doing all my training."

Hogan, who intercepted seven passes and racked up 171 tackles over his final three college seasons, obviously hopes to see the game field sooner rather than later, though this process has taught him patience.

"I kind of thought it was going to be in early August, but it took me a couple of more months of grinding to get it right," Hogan said. "It's still not all the way there, but I'm working hard to get it to where it's supposed to be.

"I've been getting ready. I've just been listening to the doctors and doing what they were telling me to do. I'm getting there."

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