- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Rookie receiver Aaron Dobson has played in seven games for the Patriots this season, and he's logged season highs in snaps played in three of the past four weeks.
The increased playing time has come as a result of his personal improvement.
"I think you’re really seeing a good day-by-day consistency -- on and off the field, on the field, in the weight room, his conditioning, in the classroom, walkthroughs, all that," coach Bill Belichick said Friday. "He’s focused and he just keeps improving. I think it’s a very steady incline."
Belichick also lauded Dobson's toughness.
"He’s taken some hits. He’s fought through some bumps and bruises and he stays out there and keeps going and gets through it," he said. "That helps because you learn but you can’t really improve [by] watching. You have to go out there and do it and get the timing and execution with your teammates and he fights through and does it."
A few other soundbites from Belichick's Friday news conference:
Not dishing on Gronkowski's hamstring. Asked how much tight end Rob Gronkowski's hamstring injury has thrown a wrench into plans to build up his playing time/stamina, Belichick said the team will list Gronkowski on the injury report, per league rules.
Thoughts on the injury report: Asked if there was any merit to the idea that Tom Brady is on the injury report, and teammates still see him practicing as a reflection of the toughness required in the NFL, Belichick answered with a big-picture thought.
"We played four preseason games [and] this is our ninth regular-season game, so we’ve played 13 consecutive weeks plus two weeks of training camp before that plus however many practices we’ve had. Who do we think that’s playing is 100 percent in that locker room?" Belichick asked.
"Let’s list those guys. Who is on that list? I don’t know. It would be a real short one. It’s the middle of football season. Everybody on the team that’s playing has got something. Guys on the practice squad have stuff. I’m not saying it makes them doubtful or anything. It’s just playing football and that’s part of it. I don’t think any player in the league that’s played that much football feels 100 percent. I can’t imagine, name another player in the league that’s as fresh as a daisy in the beginning of November after nine regular-season games and six weeks of training camp, preseason games before that. Who would that be? I mean, if all the guys that didn’t feel 100 percent didn’t practice, we’d probably have two guys out at practice, maybe not even that."