FOXBORO, Mass. — Aaron Dobson didn’t exactly live up to lofty expectations after a solid rookie season.
Dobson caught just three passes for 38 yards last season, following up on a 37-catch, 519-yard rookie campaign. A foot injury leftover from 2013 plagued Dobson early in his second season, and the year ended in a whimper for the former second-round draft pick after a hamstring injury in Week 12.
Hopes were at an all-time low for Dobson as he entered his third season, fighting for a spot on the Patriots’ roster with fellow wideouts Brian Tyms, Brandon Gibson and Josh Boyce. Suddenly, Dobson looks like the favorite for the Patriots’ No. 4 receiver role as he’s making the most of his opportunities working with the first team as starter Brandon LaFell nurses an injury.
“I feel that the longer you?re in a system, the more comfortable you?re going to get,” Dobson said Sunday after shining in practice. “The more repetitions you get, the more comfortable you get. This is my third year being in the offense so I?m just getting more comfortable as time goes on.”
The play of Day 4 of training camp came on a pass from quarterback Tom Brady to Dobson in 11-on-11 drills. Dobson went up and over cornerback Malcolm Butler, who was in tight coverage, to make a spectacular grab at midfield.
“He just threw it up, and I made a play,” Dobson said. “I saw the ball in the air, and I tried to make a play on it.”
Butler, who also had a solid practice, explained the play in greater detail.
“I know I was in good position,” Butler said. “The sun out here, it was shining real bright. I kind of lost the ball at the same time. I think he bumped me a little bit, but not to take any credit from Dobson. Great play. When you have those opportunities, you gotta make them. You just gotta make them.”
It’s plays like those that will earn Dobson much-needed trust from Brady, which seemed to be lacking at times during his rookie season.
“It takes time,” Dobson said. “Just being out here, gaining his trust, just out here making plays. Play after play, he’s throwing it up. I’ve got to make a play for him to trust me.”
Dobson also seems to be earning trust from head coach Bill Belichick, who noted that the receiver is ahead of schedule from where he was the last two seasons.
“I think Aaron has got good talent,” Belichick said Friday. “He?s dealt with some physical setbacks over the first couple years, so those have been — he came into the spring in great shape, worked hard, got a lot of reps in the spring. I think that?s put him much further ahead than probably where he?s been at this time in either of the past two years. But again, it?s just going to be about going forward and how all that works out and translates in competitive situations out on the field. We?ll just have to see how it goes. But he?s put himself in good position. He?s in good shape, he?s worked hard, he?s gotten a lot of reps in the spring. So, we?ll see how it turns out.”
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images