New England Patriots: Aaron Dobson

Patriots from a fantasy perspective

May, 20, 2014
May 20
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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?

Some leftovers from Patriots chat

May, 17, 2014
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Some leftovers from our weekly New England Patriots chat:

Keller
Tim (Wichita, Kansas): I don't understand why they haven't signed Dustin Keller yet. There's an obvious need, I bet we can get him at a reasonable price, and BB loves to steal productive players for his own division. So what's the hold up?

Tim, I'm keeping this on the radar as well. After not drafting a tight end, Keller makes a lot of sense if the health checks out and a contract agreement can be reached. Perhaps with the Patriots set to enter a new phase of their offseason progression this upcoming week, with veterans joining rookies, it sparks some movement.




BamaPat (Mobile, Alabama): Mike, my issue with draft/free agency is our WRs. You and others have argued to let the youngsters develop before bringing in veterans. So here's the scenario: The rookie WRs from last year don't take the big step this year. Pats move on and draft rookies in 2015 draft. You and other media members give them two years to develop and they don't. Now you have a nearly 40-year-old QB wiith a rebuilding WR corps again. Your strategy is a good one with a QB in his prime; not with a QB turning 37 this year. That's a bad gamble. At some point you need to pull the trigger and bolster our WRs.

Fair enough, BamaPat. I just didn't see any sure-fire, easy-to-grab answers on the free-agent market and it's not like they haven't tried in that area. Emmanuel Sanders, signed to an offer sheet as a restricted free agent last year, could have helped. They tried with Reggie Wayne in the past and got rebuffed. So I don't think it's necessarily a lack of effort. In the end, this is the way it's unfolded, and I think at some point you have to invest in the development of these youngsters while layering the position with some experience (e.g. Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell). In the end, this is what it comes down to for me: If Aaron Dobson doesn't become a top guy, it will be a big disappointment.




Joyce
Boyce
Jack (Portland, Maine): Mike, what is your take on Josh Boyce? Why was there so little playing time last year? Any known issues besides injuries? What potential role do you see for him in this offense, and do you sense a trust or chemistry with Brady?

Jack, Boyce is a smart player but he said a couple of times last year that the mental aspect of football was a big jump from Texas Christian. He also came out after his junior season and that often requires an extra year of development at the position. I'd expect Boyce to compete for the kickoff return job while also vying for a role as a No. 3-5 option on the depth chart.




Hector (Providence, Rhode Island): Hey Mike, who would you see as early candidates for a new contract amongst the RB corps? We've got Stevan Ridley, Brandon Bolden, and Shane Vereen going into their final years. With Stephen Houston and James White coming in to provide competition (and potentially a roster spot), who do you see the Pats keeping after this season?

Hector, I'd lean toward Vereen at this point, but the key for him is similar to Edelman at this time last year. It's about staying healthy for a full season. If he does that, I'd think the Patriots would put him at the top of the list.




Marko (Back Bay): Are we all writing off Ryan Mallett too soon? Is it possible the team carries 3 QB's -- including Mallett next season?

Marko, I think they'll carry three this year, just as they did in 2011 with Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer and Mallett. But next year, when Mallett is an unrestricted free agent, it seems safe to assume he will want to pursue a starting job elsewhere.

Aaron Dobson & the 2nd-year jump

April, 10, 2014
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Every team hopes for the often-discussed "second-year" jump for its key young talent, and along those lines, Gil Brandt identifies 10 players across the NFL that he believes will make the biggest leap in 2014.

Patriots receiver Aaron Dobson is one of them.

"The former second-round pick has the quickness to beat press coverage and an ability to make some spectacular catches, despite having relatively small hands," Brandt writes on NFL.com. "He can make adjustments on the ball and is a good blocker for a receiver. He's got some special stuff about him."

Health is obviously part of the discussion with Dobson, as his offseason work has been altered after undergoing surgery for a stress fracture in his foot.

Dobson had 37 catches for 519 yards and four touchdowns last season, and Brandt predicts he'll more than double his receptions in 2014, while also eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark.

The Patriots would naturally be thrilled if the 6-foot-3, 200-pound Dobson hit those marks, emerging as a top outside threat on a consistent basis. If it happens, it would mark the first time since 2003 that the Patriots had a rookie receiver who played the majority of the team's games improve on his work as a rookie.

 

Source: Foot surgery for Aaron Dobson

March, 10, 2014
Mar 10
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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.

Patriots-based odds and ends

February, 13, 2014
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A few Patriots-based odds and ends:

1. Jones draws notice: NFL Media analyst Elliot Harrison puts together his all-under 25 team and there is one Patriot making the cut -- defensive end Chandler Jones. "When you think of young studs, this guy does not immediately come to mind. He should," Harrison writes. "How is this for a second season in the league: 11.5 sacks, 79 tackles and 34 combined knockdowns/hurries?"

2. Bruschi talks Michael Sam: ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi shares stories from the Patriots locker room and insight on Missouri defensive end Michael Sam in an interview on "The Herd." We particularly liked the story he told about players yelling "CIA!" in the locker room, which was code for "coach in area" and to button things up.

3. Dobson pacing himself in offseason: In a piece with his hometown Charleston Daily Mail, Patriots receiver Aaron Dobson explained that he's been taking time to rest his legs before starting his offseason workouts in the next couple of weeks. "I feel like I am in a great place and a great organization," Dobson says. "I feel like I couldn't be in a better place just the situation I am in, playing with one of the greatest quarterbacks that ever played the game."

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.

Snaps: Edelman with ironman finish

January, 20, 2014
Jan 20
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DENVER -- A look at the snaps played by skill-position players in the New England Patriots' 26-16 loss to the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship Game:

QB Tom Brady -- 59 of 59
WR Julian Edelman -- 59 of 59
TE Michael Hoomanawanui -- 49 of 59
WR Danny Amendola -- 41 of 59
RB Shane Vereen -- 41 of 59
WR Austin Collie -- 37 of 59
WR Aaron Dobson -- 22 of 59
TE Matthew Mulligan -- 13 of 59
FB James Develin -- 12 of 59
RB Stevan Ridley -- 10 of 59
RB LeGarrette Blount -- 8 of 59
WR Matthew Slater -- 3 of 59

(Penalties included. Two-point conversion included.)

ANALYSIS: Edelman's importance to the offense is reflected in the fact he never left the field in the most important game of the season. He gave the team everything he had. ... Dobson, a rookie receiver, was obviously limited with a foot injury and was managed carefully. The beneficiary of his absence was Collie, who rose up to the challenge with a strong performance. ... Amendola played too many snaps to go without a catch. He had the one drop. ... At running back, it was a rotation with the big backs Blount and Ridley, but they hardly played because of the way the game unfolded and the Patriots were forced into more of a passing game. With that, Vereen took the majority of snaps at the position. ... The 59 snaps were a season-low. The previous low was 63, against the Bengals on Oct. 6.

Quick-hit thoughts from first quarter

January, 19, 2014
Jan 19
3:44
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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).

W2W4: Five things for Patriots-Broncos

January, 17, 2014
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It was a safe bet that the buildup to this Sunday’s AFC Championship Game was going to include substantial talk about Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning, the two quarterbacks involved.

But this week has involved so much more, as the two best teams in the AFC have provided no shortage of storylines this season in distancing themselves from the rest of the conference.

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Talk has ensued about how the previous matchup between the teams will play into Sunday, how the game will impact the legacy of Brady and Manning, and how much of a factor familiarity between the two teams will be.

In the end, however, Sunday will dictate only one thing for sure, and that is which team will represent the AFC in Super Bowl XLVIII.

A win would make Brady the first quarterback in NFL history to start six Super Bowls, and would also tie Bill Belichick for the most postseason victories of all-time.

The Denver Broncos enter the game as a favorite according to the point spread, but the New England Patriots are looking to carry their strong play over the past three games into a triumphant effort on Sunday.

Here’s what we’ll be watching for.

1. Patriots' offensive approach: If the Patriots want to stick with what has worked over the past three games, then hammering the Broncos on the ground seems like a strong bet. LeGarrette Blount and the stable of backs have been dominant behind an overwhelming offensive line. The Patriots are a game plan offense, however, always aiming to attack a defense’s weakness, and with recent injuries factored in, the Broncos are a better defense against the run than the pass. Will the Patriots try to pick apart a secondary playing without its best cornerback? Or, perhaps, will the ground game set the tone?

2. Slowing Denver's passing attack: Back in Week 12, the Patriots' defense was able to limit Manning to a mortal effort, holding him to 150 passing yards on 19-of-36 attempts. Some of that might be attributed to the wind, but the secondary also showed it has what it takes to go toe-to-toe with the best offense in football. A key player who was not on the field during that matchup, tight end Julius Thomas, will be available this Sunday, giving the Patriots one more player to account for. He joins the trio of Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and, of course, Wes Welker to form a unique set of weapons for Manning.

[+] EnlargeKnowshon Moreno
Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesKnowshon Moreno rushed for 1,038 yards this season.
3. Building the run D wall: In the last meeting, Denver rushed for 280 yards, with Knowshon Moreno accounting for 224 of those yards. The Patriots were likely happy with keeping the Broncos' passing offense under wraps in Week 12, but they have repeatedly said this week that they can't afford to let Denver run the ball the same way again. From a personnel standpoint, the insertion of Sealver Siliga as a starter at defensive tackle has appeared to pay off, as the Patriots have held two of their past five opponents under 100 yards rushing.

4. Allen and Dobson’s health and status: They have flown under the radar a bit after Brady missed Wednesday’s practice, but both punter Ryan Allen and wide receive Aaron Dobson have practiced on a limited basis this week. Allen left last Saturday’s game with a shoulder injury, and while that won’t likely impact his punting, it could be a factor in him handling snaps, both as the holder and punter, as we saw what a high snap can do on a given play last week. For Dobson, who hasn’t played since Week 17, a return would give the Patriots their biggest receiver in the lineup and a potential red-zone target. Should the Patriots aim to test a beaten up Denver secondary, Dobson could give them a vertical presence on the perimeter.

5. Altitude, crowd noise, “Omaha!”, etc. It’s hard to gauge just how much the thin air of Denver impacts players’ stamina on the field, but one area where it does often have an impact is in the kicking game. Don’t expect many kickoff returns on Sunday, though it does shorten the field for offenses, who can attempt field goals from greater distances. Denver is a loud venue, and the Patriots' offense will be tested by the crowd noise. As we saw in the Broncos-Chargers game, Manning is a master at drawing opponents offside (he used the cadence “Omaha!” 44 times during the game), and the Patriots must be disciplined in their pre-snap movement. Especially against this offense, giving away free yards (which can potentially extend a drive) is something a defense must avoid.

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
Jan 15
11:30
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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.

Welcome to Gillette Stadium

January, 11, 2014
Jan 11
4:00
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Gillete StadiumCourtesy of Mike ReissThe wind and rain in Foxborough are expected to continue through the afternoon and evening.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Welcome to Gillette Stadium, where the New England Patriots host the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC divisional round of the playoffs (8:15 p.m. ET):

[+] EnlargeGame Day Program
Coutesy of Mike ReissTom Brady and Bill Belichick are on the cover of tonight's GameDay magazine.
Weather conditions: Temperatures are mild for this time of year, currently in the low 50s and high humidity, but it is raining and windy. The gusts coming into the stadium were powerful to the point that the two goalposts on the team’s lower practice field were blown sideways. It seems fair to say this will be an "elements" game (weather.com forecast).

Six more inactives for Patriots: With rookie receiver Aaron Dobson (foot) already having been ruled out, the Patriots have six more players to declare inactive. Those decisions are finalized and announced about 90 minutes before kickoff. Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (knee/shoulder) and receiver Kenbrell Thompkins (hip) were the two players listed as questionable on the team’s final injury report.

Morelli gets the call: Pete Morelli has been assigned to referee tonight’s game. The NFL uses all-star crews in the playoffs, and two of the other six officials tonight had worked with Morelli during the regular season. Morelli’s crew was known for throwing among the fewest penalties in the NFL, but the all-star crew aspect alters any type of referee "scouting."

Belichick and Brady on GameDay cover: Quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick are pictured on the cover of tonight's GameDay magazine.

Final game for CBS analyst Dierdorf: Tonight’s game will be broadcast on CBS, with Greg Gumbel (play-by-play) and Dan Dierdorf (analysis) on the call. This is Dierdorf’s final game as he previously announced he was retiring after the season.

National Anthem: Performed by Michelle Brooks-Thompson, a TMG Gospel recording artist from Springfield, Mass.

Color Guard: MBTA Transit Police Honor Guard.

Aaron Dobson to miss Saturday's game

January, 10, 2014
Jan 10
3:55
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New England Patriots wide receiver Aaron Dobson, who has not practiced since suffering another foot injury in Week 17, was officially declared out for Saturday's divisional-round playoff game against the Colts.

Dobson
Dobson, who was the only player ruled out by the team, missed four games in the regular season with an undisclosed foot issue. The Patriots will count on Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Kenbrell Thompkins and the recently re-signed Austin Collie at the receiver position.

Guard Logan Mankins, who was also injured in Week 17, is probable with an ankle issue. Mankins did not practice during the team's bye week, but he was present for each day of practice this week.

Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (knee/shoulder) is questionable, as he followed the same practice pattern as Mankins. Dennard did not play in the team's regular-season finale. Thompkins (hip) is the only other player listed as questionable.

Safety Devin McCourty (concussion), cornerback Kyle Arrington (groin) and running back Shane Vereen (groin) are among other Patriots listed as probable, nine in total.

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.

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