BOSTON (CBS) — After missing the last 5 weeks with a shoulder injury, Wednesday was a whole new ballgame for Chris Hogan.

The Patriots receiver was back on the practice field for the first time since injuring his shoulder back on October 29, and is hopeful a return to game action will soon follow.

“It was like a first day of school for me, to get back out on the field. I was excited to be out there. The competitor in me wants to be out there no matter what,” Hogan told reporters inside Gillette Stadium. “I’m just taking it day by day trying to get better and hopefully put myself in a position where I can be back on the field with these guys.”

Hogan has missed the last four games with his bad shoulder, an injury he suffered late in New England’s Week 8 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. For a player who is on the field for nearly every offensive snap, it was difficult to be away from the game and his teammates. But with his return to practice, his focus has shifted away from rehabbing his shoulder and he’s locked into making a return to the field.

He wouldn’t guarantee a return on Monday night when the Patriots play the Dolphins down in Miami, but Hogan’s return to practice and chat with the media are good signs that his return is coming soon. With Rob Gronkowski suspended for Monday night’s game, the Patriots could certainly use another weapon for Tom Brady’s passing attack. But Hogan knows even if he can’t return, the offense is in good hands.

“That’s what’s great about this team; guys are willing and able to step up and make a lot of plays.” he said. “You can go down the list of the guys who have stepped up the last few weeks and made plays, helping this team get wins.”

Hogan has 33 catches for 438 yards and five touchdowns on the season.

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