GOOD HANDS: Receiver Chris Hogan (15) may not be the biggest name in Tom Brady’s arsenal, but he can still do plenty of damage.
PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

FOXBORO — Tom Brady’s offense might be indefensible because of its headliners, but a silent assassin could be the glue who helps hold it together.

Chris Hogan has almost been an afterthought among Brady’s corps of weapons. The Pats have the most dominant force in the league in Rob Gronkowski, an elite route runner and clutch conversion artist in Julian Edelman and now a mesmerizing big-play threat in Brandin Cooks.

Defenses will be so stressed out in their attempt to slow down Gronkowski, Edelman and Cooks that Hogan figures to be as dangerous as any of them. Hogan’s impressive training camp rolled on yesterday when he caught six of Brady’s 19 completions in team drills. He leads the team with 16 connections with Brady through five practices.

That begs the thought: For a Patriots offense that thrives on matchup advantages, how much damage can Hogan levy?

“Whatever the game plan is every single week, I’m not looking ahead at anything,” Hogan said. “My focus now is to try to string together good days in training camp and do my job. If I do my job, take advantage of every opportunity I get out there and be in the right spot, the plays will come. When it does come, I’ve got to take advantage of it.”

Hogan isn’t going to lead the Patriots in catches or receiving yards. But he did catch 38 passes for 680 yards and four touchdowns last season, and his 17.9 yards per catch was the second-best output in a single season by a Brady teammate with at least 30 receptions. (It would have been the highest if his four-catch, 27-yard performance in the finale didn’t doom his average.)

In his first season with the Pats, Hogan was a vertical threat who showed remarkable chemistry with Brady. Their symmetry led to touchdown connections in back-to-back weeks against the Rams and Ravens, as Hogan quickly read the defensive coverage after the snap and adjusted his route accordingly to yield the throws from Brady.

The quarterback-receiver bond has clearly taken another step forward this camp, and Hogan acknowledged he has eliminated many of his mistakes, which weren’t all that noticeable to outsiders last year.

“I think that’s a big thing for me,” Hogan said. “No matter what, you’re going to have hard days out here. There’s going to be a drop here or a tough pass that you didn’t come down with there. I think the mental aspect of the game is huge. For me, now in my second year, eliminating those mental errors or not knowing where to go, that’s pretty big for me. I know I’ve done a pretty good job of learning the offense and having a better understanding of who goes where and why. Being able to play fast is big.”

Because Brady does trust Hogan so decisively, the case could be made that he is the most dangerous fourth option in the NFL. At the very least, Brady will wear out Hogan in games when defenses roll their coverages toward Gronkowski, Edelman and Cooks.

Hogan admitted he is more comfortable in the offense this season, but he isn’t the type to be satisfied. He entered the league in 2011 as an undrafted product from Monmouth and bounced between four teams before corralling a three-year, $12 million contract from the Patriots, so Hogan has always worked for his place in the league. One successful season isn’t going to change his drive to keep earning his opportunities.

There was another example yesterday. Brady overshot Hogan in the right corner of the end zone by a fingertip on his second-to-last throw of practice. It would have been an incredible over-the-shoulder catch if Hogan made it with a cornerback draped over his back, but the lack of execution got to him. The wideout slowly returned to his feet and wound up to fire his helmet into the grass before walking back across the field.

“I could have come down with it,” Hogan said.

There have been times over the past week when Gronkowski, Edelman and Cooks have stolen the show with their respective flashiness. Hogan has quietly been the most consistent among the group, at least in terms of catching passes, and that may be an under-the-radar theme once the season arrives.

That’s a lifetime from now for Hogan.

“Training camp for me is a day-by-day thing,” Hogan said. “It’s a grind. If you lose focus on what you’re trying to work on, you won’t be there mentally, and it’ll be tough physically. I’m just trying to string together good days. It’s still early in camp. It’s only going to get tougher, and it’s supposed to be hard out here.

“I’m trying to put my head down and do what I’ve been doing in training camp since I’ve gotten to the National Football League.”