AFC East: Aaron Dobson

ESPN.com's fantasy football staff has unveiled its top 200 player rankings and here is a look at where the top Patriots fall in the list:

35. TE Rob Gronkowski (third at position)
58. RB Shane Vereen (26th at position)
61. WR Julian Edelman (24th at position)
66. RB Stevan Ridley (28th at position)
97. WR Danny Amendola (42nd at position)
111. QB Tom Brady (12th at position)
136. WR Aaron Dobson (51st at position)
148. Patriots defense/special teams (ninth as a unit)
152. K Stephen Gostkowski (second at position)
170. WR Brandon LaFell (57th at position)

As the piece notes, these rankings are based on a 10-team ESPN standard league with 16-player rosters, starting one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end, one flex (RB/WR/TE), a team defense and a kicker.

Any objections?

Source: Foot surgery for Aaron Dobson

March, 10, 2014
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Second-year Patriots receiver Aaron Dobson underwent surgery for a stress fracture in his left foot on Monday, a source confirms. The estimated timeframe for his recovery is around 2-3 months.

Dobson
The source described Dobson to be in good spirits and doing well after the surgery.

The Boston Herald first reported the surgery.

This is obviously a setback of sorts for Dobson, a player the Patriots have big plans for after selecting him in the second round of the 2013 draft (59th overall).

It is often said that a player's biggest jump comes between his first and second seasons, in part because the player has a full offseason to devote to his craft after his rookie campaign. But Dobson's offseason, at least the early part of it, will now be more about rehabilitation.

The Patriots can begin their offseason program on April 21.

Pats improve in Kiper regrade

January, 23, 2014
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One of our first instincts following the NFL draft is to assess how teams fared in the process.

Following last year's draft, ESPN NFL draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. graded the Patriots' class as a C+, noting at the time: "I don't see a starter out of this draft in the short-term, but they added players with some really good traits. It's just a matter of development now."

With a full season of tape study under his belt, Kiper has re-graded each team's draft class, and the Patriots' mark improved to a B.

"Is there a star in this draft, or even a Pro Bowl-caliber player? Maybe not," Kiper writes. "But that doesn't mean the Patriots didn't do an incredible job of plugging gaps with rookies they drafted and those they picked up as undrafted free agents to keep the ship afloat as long as they did."

"Bill Belichick deserves a lot of credit for utilizing these guys to the best of their ability, but there isn't anyone who wows you in this class," Kiper also writes. "Still, the grade definitely jumps."

He also notes that the Patriots had the second most snaps played by a rookie class in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Info, while the team used 13 rookies in total.

Each of the seven drafted players made the active roster for the Patriots, with Logan Ryan, Aaron Dobson, Jamie Collins and Duron Harmon as the primary contributors.

Defensive tackle Chris Jones, a sixth-round pick of the Texans, and undrafted defensive tackle Joe Vellano also played extensively.

To see Kiper's full take on the draft re-grades (Insider content), click HERE.

Quick-hit thoughts from first quarter

January, 19, 2014
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DENVER -- After 15 minutes of play, the New England Patriots trail the Denver Broncos 3-0 in the AFC Championship Game. Passing along quick-hit notes and observations from the first quarter.

1. Pats' O starts slow. The Patriots' offense needed just one play to find the end zone last Saturday, but the start wasn't quite the same today, as the offense went three and out on its first drive and punted on each of the first two drives. Some notable personnel factors: Aaron Dobson is playing some in two-receiver sets, LeGarrette Blount once again is handling lead back duties and both Matthew Slater and Austin Collie have been targeted on third-down plays.

2. Perfect conditions. The weather is idyllic in Denver today, with a temperature of 61 degrees at kickoff. There's hardly a cloud in the sky, and there's minimal wind. A strong glare has made things difficult on returners fielding punts deep.

3. Broncos open the scoring. The Broncos got on the board first with a field goal late in the first quarter. The drive was helped by a long completion from Peyton Manning to Demaryius Thomas on a third and 10 play. The Patriots were able to hold the Broncos from the 10-yard line, however, forcing the field goal from Matt Prater.

4. Patriots' offense driving. The Patriots' offense generated a little bit of buzz at the end of the quarter, crossing into Denver territory. The second quarter will open with the Patriots facing a fourth down from Denver's 39.

5. Penalty box. The following Patriots were flagged for penalties during the first quarter: tight end Michael Hoomanawanui (offensive pass interference).

Beauharnais absence part of roster move?

January, 17, 2014
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Rookie linebacker Steve Beauharnais was the only player missing from New England Patriots practice on Friday morning, though the reason behind his absence was unclear.

Beauharnais
He was not listed on the team's injury report Thursday and has not dealt with an injury issue this season. The absence could hint at a potential roster move coming for the Patriots, as this has mostly been a red-shirt season for Beauharnais.

Aside from Beauharnais, there was full attendance at practice, including the third straight day of work for both wide receiver Aaron Dobson and punter Ryan Allen.

Dobson, who had not practiced following a Week 17 injury until this past Wednesday, said earlier Friday in the locker room, “Right now, I feel like it's OK. I have to do what I have to do. I'm trying not to think about it, go out there and do what I can do, and do it the best I can.”

Allen, meanwhile, has toughed through a sprained AC joint this week, which was suffered in a divisional round win against the Colts.

Head coach Bill Belichick spoke to Allen's mental toughness on Friday morning in handling adverse circumstances during his rookie season.

"Mentally, he's shown a lot of toughness and competitiveness to do what he needs to do, whether it be wind, rain, snow, cold, what have you," he said.

The Patriots practiced in helmets and shells for their final on-field tuneup before traveling to Denver later today.

Tom Brady not spotted at practice

January, 15, 2014
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was not spotted at the start of practice on Wednesday morning during the media availability portion of the on-field workout.

Brady
The reason for Brady's absence is unclear, as is whether he will take part in any portion of Wednesday's practice. A source told ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss that Brady is "good and will be ready for Sunday."

Brady did not suffer any apparent injury during the team's game against the Colts on Saturday night, though he was sick throughout the week last week.

He has been listed as a limited participant with a shoulder injury on multiple occasions since late October, though Brady has not missed a practice this season.

The Patriots moved Brady's regularly scheduled Wednesday news conference to Friday morning.

He was one of two Patriots not seen at the start of practice, as long snapper Danny Aiken, who was also playing through illness on Saturday night, was also not spotted.

Meanwhile, the Patriots did have punter Ryan Allen, who left Saturday's game with a shoulder injury, on the field. Allen suffered an AC sprain, according to sources, and the team is hopeful he can rehab the injury this week to a point that he is good to go on Sunday.

Finally, wide receiver Aaron Dobson, who was injured in Week 17 and had not practiced since that time, returned to practice on Wednesday as he continues to work through a foot injury.

Deion Branch among Colts' inactives

January, 11, 2014
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots previously ruled out only one player for tonight's game against the Colts, leaving six more to declare inactive.

With a largely healthy 53-man roster, there was more question than usual as to who the team would deactivate.

As it turns out, in addition to wide receiver Aaron Dobson, the Patriots deactivated the following players: defensive end Jake Bequette, guard Chris Barker, tight end D.J. Williams, defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga, linebacker Steve Beauharnais and cornerback Justin Green.

The Colts declared the following players as inactive: wide receiver Deion Branch, wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, wide receiver Josh Lenz, cornerback Sheldon Price, linebacker Daniel Adongo, center Khaled Holmes, and guard Joe Reitz.

QUICK-HIT THOUGHTS: With Dobson as the only injury-related absence, the Patriots deactivated depth-level players beyond that. None of the players who is inactive has had a major role this season, as Sopoaga has not been a factor of late. Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (knee/shoulder) and wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins (hip) were both questionable, though each will play tonight. It will be interesting to see if Dennard is inserted as a starter, or if the Patriots stick with rookie Logan Ryan.

On the Colts' front, the biggest news is that Deion Branch is inactive after being signed this week. The former Patriot will not take the field against his old team, though this shouldn't come as a major surprise given how recently he was signed.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- There were no changes to the Patriots' injury report for Thursday, as wide receiver Aaron Dobson (foot) was the only non-participant, while nine others were limited.

Given that Dobson has missed each of the team’s practices since leaving Week 17 with his second foot injury of the season, he is highly unlikely to play on Saturday night. The Patriots will rely on top targets Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola plus Kenbrell Thompkins and recently re-signed Austin Collie at the position.

Guard Logan Mankins (ankle) headlined the list of limited participants, which also included cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (knee/shoulder) and running back Shane Vereen (groin). Based off of their practice participation this week, all three seem to have a good shot of playing on Saturday night.

The Patriots will issue a final status report for Saturday’s game on Friday afternoon.

Mankins, Dennard back at practice

January, 7, 2014
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots starting left guard Logan Mankins and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard both returned to practice on Tuesday morning, the first on-field work for the team this week after their bye weekend.

Dennard
Mankins
Mankins, who suffered an ankle injury in Week 17, did not practice at all last week, while Dennard has been dealing with a shoulder and knee issue of late that kept him out of Week 17 entirely.

Wide receiver Aaron Dobson (foot), who also missed practice all of last week after suffering another foot injury in the regular season finale, was the lone player not spotted at the start of practice.

The Patriots had an open roster spot after placing linebacker Brandon Spikes on injured reserve yesterday, and it has apparently been filled. A wide receiver wearing number 84 was on the practice field today, though it's unclear if he has been signed to the active roster or if he was signed to the practice squad and the Patriots promoted a separate player.

Due to extreme cold in the area, the Patriots practiced inside the Dana-Farber Fieldhouse outside of Gillette Stadium. They practiced in shells and helmets.

Colts' win from Patriots viewpoint

January, 4, 2014
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The Indianapolis Colts pulled off a shocking 45-44 comeback win against the Kansas City Chiefs in the wild-card round of the playoffs, and here are a few thoughts from a New England Patriots perspective:

Luck
1. Andrew Luck factor: If the Patriots host the Colts next week, which would happen if the No. 6 Chargers beat the No. 3 Bengals tomorrow, this is where it starts. Entering the wild-card round, the thought was that if there was one player who could take over a game and possibly end the team's season, it was Luck. He did it to the Chiefs, albeit with some luck (e.g. Donald Brown's fumble and recovery for a TD). It's one thing to prepare for a top running back like Jamaal Charles (Chiefs) or a top receiver like A.J. Green (Bengals), but when the signature player is a quarterback, it's a whole different ballgame.

2. Defense looks vulnerable: One area where I gave the Colts too much credit is on defense. That's a vulnerable unit, particularly in the secondary. The presence of Patriots rookie receiver Aaron Dobson could be key in this type of matchup, as he's a bigger target (6-foot-3, 200) with more of an outside-the-numbers and downfield presence. The Colts struggled against the Chiefs' bigger receivers, and Dobson (foot injury) is really all the Patriots have in that area.

3. Don't get fooled by a dome team playing outdoors: The Patriots are undefeated at home this season, and it's absolutely an advantage for them that they will be playing at 8:15 p.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 11. They are also one of the NFL's best teams playing in adverse conditions, and it figures to be cold. With this in mind, there might be a thought to dismiss the Colts' chances as a dome team coming outdoors, but that would be a mistake. The Colts showed a lot in this area in a Week 16 win at Kansas City, where it was frigid and they played one of their best games of the season. I'd still pick the Patriots, but this Colts team deserves respect.

Four absent from practice

January, 2, 2014
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- For the second consecutive day, guard Logan Mankins, wide receivers Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce, and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard were not spotted at the start of New England Patriots practice.

Mankins left Sunday's game briefly with an ankle injury and had a walking boot next to his locker on Monday afternoon. Given that the Patriots do not play until next Saturday night, it's possible they are looking to build in extra rest for their top offensive lineman.

Dobson, remains out after injuring his foot in Week 17, the same area that caused him to miss time late in the season. It's unclear if Dobson suffered the same injury to his foot or if a separate issue is now bothering him. Boyce has been hampered by an ankle injury since Week 16, and has not practiced since.

Veteran wide receiver Austin Collie was re-signed Thursday, according to a league source, and was spotted wearing number 10.

Dennard did not play in Week 17, and has dealt with injuries throughout much of the second half of the regular season. Beyond a knee injury, Dennard is also playing through a shoulder problem.

Today is the Patriots' second of three practice days this week before a break over the weekend. The team practiced on the game field at Gillette Stadium in the snow, where nearly a foot is expected to come down between Thursday and Friday.

The Patriots practiced in full pads.

Sharing Patriots halftime thoughts

December, 29, 2013
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Sharing thoughts at halftime of the New England Patriots' regular-season finale against the Bills (New England leads 16-3):

Mankins' toughness is evident: When starting left guard Logan Mankins was helped off the field in the second quarter, it was natural to assume it was serious. Mankins is one of the toughest Patriots players, once playing on a torn ACL. But after going to the locker room, Mankins soon returned to action. It very well might be serious, but they don't come much tougher than Mankins.

Dobson foot injury could lead to Collie call: With rookie receiver Aaron Dobson limping off the field in the first quarter (and not returning), it moved Kenbrell Thompkins up the depth chart into some two-receiver packages. Also, Danny Amendola played in some two-receiver packages along with Julian Edelman after opening the game exclusively as the No. 3. One thought: If Dobson's injury is serious enough to keep him out, it could lead to a quick call back for Austin Collie.

Edelman's milestone: Edelman has arguably been the Patriots' most consistent offensive player this season, and he hit both the 100-catch and 1,000-yard receiving marks today. The spark he is providing the offense is Wes Welker-like.

Wet ball a factor: With the game being played under heavy rain, ballhandling has been shaky on both sides. New England's Shane Vereen and LeGarrette Blount had fumbles, both of which were recovered by the Patriots. Amendola dropped a pass. It looked like one long throw might have slipped out of Tom Brady's hand.

Style of play reminds of 2004 season: When the Patriots run the ball like they have today, and also last Sunday against Baltimore, it brings back memories of the 2004 season when Corey Dillon was rumbling through opposing defenses. Dillon was a big back, and while Blount is not in that class, his size stands out.

Credit to the defense: The Patriots are piecing things together on defense, but credit to the unit for coming up with the stops in the critical situations (e.g. fourth-and-1). It doesn't always look pretty, and the Bills have helped in some areas with sloppy play, but the New England defense has done its part so far today.

Bills get the ball: The Bills won the opening toss and elected to defer, so they will get the ball at the start of the second half.

Dobson (foot) progressing toward return

December, 19, 2013
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots rookie receiver Aaron Dobson, who has missed the past three games with a foot injury, is inching closer to a return.

After returning to practice last Friday, Dobson has been present for both practices this week. On Thursday, he drew a large crowd of reporters in the locker room and was asked if he thinks he has a chance to play Sunday against the Ravens.

Dobson
"I think so," he answered. "I'm just going through the week, trying to progress, and will see how it feels."

Dobson was in a starting role at the time of his injury; he left the team's Nov. 24 win over the Broncos with a foot injury in the second half.

"It was tough but I'm just trying to get off that [line of thinking] and trying to get back on the field, doing what I can at practice, trying to improve," he said.

Dobson, who at 6-foot-3 brings height and leaping ability that sets him apart from the team's other receivers, was asked if a three-game absence might affect the momentum he had built. He has totaled 35 catches for 492 yards and four touchdowns on the season.

"I feel like it can affect you if you let it," he answered. "I just stayed in my playbook and tried to keep an edge."

Conditioning-wise, Dobson said he feels OK.

"I haven't played in a couple weeks, so I feel like I can improve on that a little bit," he said.

Dobson (foot) questionable for Week 15

December, 13, 2013
12/13/13
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- After returning to practice on a limited basis Friday, Patriots rookie wide receiver Aaron Dobson (foot) is questionable to play Sunday against the Dolphins.

Dobson had been out since suffering a Week 12 injury against the Broncos, and while he is still no guarantee to play Sunday, it is a positive step toward a recovery that he has returned to practice.

The Patriots listed nine players as questionable, including tight end Michael Hoomanawanui (knee) and offensive tackle Marcus Cannon (ankle), who each have missed recent games due to injury, as well as starting left tackle Nate Solder, who missed Wednesday's practice with a concussion.

If Hoomanawanui is unable to play, the Patriots will have just two healthy tight ends Sunday as they aim to replace Rob Gronkowski: Matthew Mulligan and D.J. Williams, re-signed this week.

A pair of Patriots cornerbacks, Alfonzo Dennard (shoulder/knee) and Kyle Arrington (groin), are listed as questionable, as is linebacker Brandon Spikes (knee), who worked on the stationary bike for a portion of the team's stretching period Friday.

Quarterback Tom Brady (right shoulder) was a full participant in Friday's practice after being limited on Wednesday and Thursday and is listed as probable to play.

LT Nate Solder back at practice

December, 12, 2013
12/12/13
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots starting left tackle Nate Solder was on the practice field to start Thursday's practice after sitting out Wednesday's session with a concussion.

Solder
Solder
Wide receiver Aaron Dobson was again not spotted at the start of practice for the second straight day, the team's lone absence. Dobson has been out since suffering a Week 12 foot injury.

It's a good sign for Solder, although if he is not able to play this Sunday, the team may be forced to move veteran Will Svitek into his place on the left side of the line. Svitek has been starting in place of Marcus Cannon at right tackle of late, though Cannon has practiced both days this week (ankle).

If Cannon is unable to play again this Sunday, the team may promote one of their practice squad offensive linemen to the active roster for insurance purposes.

Linebacker Brandon Spikes, who has been dealing with a knee injury, rode the stationary bike during individual position group drills.

The Patriots once again took to their indoor facility for practice as they prepare for heat and humidity down in Miami this Sunday.

The team practiced in helmets and shells.

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