On July 11, commenter "PatriotBeatDown921" offered up a suggestion in a blog entry: "Just wondering if there was any way to do a couple more pieces on the rookies in the next week or so until the REAL news hits the fan. I'm especially interested in Ras-I Dowling and what he brings to the table."
It was a good idea, one that sparked a Dowling piece now posted on ESPNBoston.com.
Dowling, the cornerback selected with the top pick of the second round (33rd overall), has been working out in Virginia and living at home during the lockout. He talked about not having seen the team's playbook.
"I haven't had a chance," said Dowling, whose size (6-foot-1, 198 pounds) and speed (4.4 in the 40-yard dash) is a rare combination, but who slipped in the draft because of injuries in 2010. "That's the reason I'm really waiting for the lockout to end, to get in the playbook and learn the system, and learn from the other guys also."
Dowling potentially could be a four-down player in the Patriots' system. He has extensive experience playing special teams at Virginia, including work as a gunner on the punt coverage team. The Patriots are obviously hoping he'll contribute more than that, although that's likely where he has the chance to make the biggest impact right away.