Saturday, July 27, 2013
Roommates Dobson & Boyce emerge
By Field Yates
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Considerable turnover at the wide receiver spot has a pair of Patriots draft choices primed to compete for playing time in their inaugural NFL season.
But Aaron Dobson, the 6-foot-3, 200-pound second-round choice out of Marshall, and Josh Boyce, a 5-foot-11, 205-pounder from Texas Christian, say they aren't feeling any pressure to fill the vacancies created by the departures of players such as Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd and Deion Branch.
"We've been playing football our whole lives," said Boyce, who added that he feels 100 percent after sustaining a pre-draft toe injury that limited him this offseason. "This is what we do, this is our job. No pressure, just get out here and do what you're supposed to do."
Aaron Dobson, who made a noteworthy catch during Saturday's practice, says he's just trying to "come out here and have fun."
"I'm just trying to come out here and have fun," Dobson added. "When you start getting into pressure, that's when you start thinking too much. I'm just trying to come out here and have fun."
The remarks came following the team's second practice of training camp, an on-field session during which Dobson was among the standout players, showcasing the impressive catch radius that made him a productive receiver at Marshall. He brought in one of the highlight catches of the day on a throw from Tom Brady that came over cornerback Aqib Talib.
Getting on the same page as the veteran quarterbacks is among the 22-year-old's training camp goals.
"He's definitely going to put the ball out there," Dobson said. "I've just got to go out and make the catch. That's the same page we've got to be on as a quarterback and receiver."
Brady, the unquestioned leader of the offense, is working to develop chemistry with his newest set of receivers.
"He's one of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game, so he's definitely demanding," Dobson said of Brady. "[He's] definitely tough to play for, but you've just got to do it."
Boyce has been unable to work alongside Brady until recently due to the toe issue, but has looked sharp in initial viewings. He's accustomed to playing with top-flight quarterbacks, however, as he was high school teammates with Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III and college teammates with Andy Dalton, the Bengals starter.
He made sure not to fall too far behind while sidelined in the spring, taking the opportunity to learn the playbook and work through mental reps while his teammates were practicing. Having to miss the time was still difficult.
"But everything happens for a reason," Boyce said of sitting out offseason work. "A learning process. I learned a lot. I'm just out here ready to go."
Now that both are back on the field and healthy, Boyce and Dobson are relying on each other as they begin their NFL careers.
"Me and him are real cool," Dobson said of Boyce. "We're roommates, so we definitely are pushing each other out here, trying to get each other on the same page and do the right thing."
"We lean on each other a lot," Boyce added. "[We] talk to each other every day, we wake each other up. Me and him are going through the same process, so it's good to have somebody with you the whole way."