Rob Gronkowski’s Absence at Patriots OTAs Gives Aaron Dobson Opportunity to Develop Connection With Tom Brady

Aaron Dobson, Ben BartholomewI’d like to start this week’s NFL mailbag off with a salute to all our nation’s veterans in honor of Memorial Day. It’s not often that I get to express my personal feelings on here, but this seemed like as good a time as any to break the mold.

While happenings around the NFL seem trivial in comparison, there is still plenty to talk about with the Patriots and the league in general.

The Patriots began their voluntary organized training activities last week and there was a lot of buzz coming out of the pad-less practice. The defense looked sturdy and both Vince Wilfork and Aqib Talib sounded optimistic about their start to the offseason, but the offseason was still the primary area of focus.

Tom Brady spent quite a bit of time working with Danny Amendola, who looked like a spitting image of Wes Welker out on the field but with noticeably more speed. Other receivers, like second-round rookie Aaron Dobson, also raised some eyebrows with impressive play on the outside.

So, while you start to unwind from the long weekend and get back into the flow of the work week, it seems like as good a time as any to field some questions and catch up on everything we’ve missed over the past week.

Do you think that with every viable Patriots receiver recovering from injury that this will benefit Dobson and the other young receivers coming into camp getting acclimated with Tom Brady?
– Chuck Lampron, Red Bluff, California

That’s a good question, Chuck. Dobson wasn’t working with the first team during OTAs on Tuesday, but he did get quite a few reps in with Brady and already seemed to be pretty on point. He also had arguably the highlight of the day, catching a ball in traffic and using his size to haul it in just beyond the reach of two defenders. So, with Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Julian Edelman all either out or at least limited until training camp, Dobson should see some added reps, which will only benefit him, fellow rookie Josh Boyce and even Danny Amendola heading into their first seasons with the Patriots.

There was a rumor that the Pats were looking to trade [Ryan] Mallett. Are they still looking to move him or is he pretty much set to be Brady’s backup this year? I know they wanted at least a second-round pick for him. Was their asking price too high or is it something else? I know Brady plans on playing until he is 40, I don’t think he wants to wait around that long for a chance to start. He has a great arm, I think with some reps, he would be good somewhere.
– Dan Gosselin, Pawtucket, R.I.

Well, I’m sure Mallett doesn’t want to be a backup his entire career, but he seems pretty patient about finding the right opportunity. Brady isn’t going anywhere, so he’ll need to find a new home soon, but it depends whether that is through a trade or if he walks in free agency in 2014 (restricted) or 2015.

The Browns and Buccaneers were reportedly interested in Mallett ahead of the draft, but with Brian Hoyer now in Cleveland and the Bucs taking Mike Glennon in the third round of the NFL draft, neither team seems to be in imminent need of another quarterback. The Patriots’ best option may be to wait until midway through the season and see if any quarterbacks go down or just wait into the offseason again and try to deal him then. They’ll still need at least one second or third-round pick, along with another pick, in order to get some value in return for the third round pick they spent in 2011.

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