FOXBORO, Mass. — Aaron Dobson is back on the New England Patriots practice field, but it could be a while before the wide receiver makes his preseason debut.
Dobson is only participating in wide receiver drills and 7-on-7s while he recovers from offseason surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot. Dobson was a starter by the end of his rookie season in 2013, but he’s playing from behind now after missing most of training camp. Luckily for the second-year pro, time away from the field allowed him to concentrate on his playbook.
“I feel way more comfortable than I did last year,” Dobson said. “Just being away from the game, not being able to practice, I definitely just, mentally stayed in at meetings, mental reps, all that. I definitely stayed into it. I feel like I kind of stayed ahead of the game doing that.”
With a new confidence in the Patriots’ playbook, Dobson can start rebuilding chemistry with his starting quarterback, Tom Brady. There were times in 2013 that Brady appeared to lose trust in Dobson and fellow rookie receivers Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce.
“It’s big. You definitely want your quarterback to trust you,” Dobson said. “You want him to trust you to know that you’re doing the right thing. You don’t want him, ‘Oh is he gonna do the right thing?’ Then you might not get a ball. So you definitely want to get comfortable with him, talk to him, get a relationship with the QB and make sure he trusts you.”
Dobson’s locker is to the right of Brady’s after the Patriots rearranged their locker room this offseason. Backup quarterback Ryan Mallett and wide receiver Julian Edelman used to flank Brady. Now the starting QB’s locker is situated between Dobson and Brandon LaFell. Having a locker next to Brady’s can’t hurt Dobson as he competes with Thompkins and LaFell for starting reps.
Dobson already can feel that the competition at his position is making all of the wide receivers better.
“Competition is always a good thing,” Dobson said. “All of us being out there, pushing each other. We’re holding each other accountable. Competition is good. It’s gonna bring the best out of us.”