The New England Patriots received some encouraging news on both sides of the football Monday. According to various sources, second-year receiver Aaron Dobson and first-round pick Dominique Easley were taken of the active/physically unable to perform list and were both dressed in uniform and prepared to practice for the first time since training camp opened. Head coach Bill Belichick said before practice that both are “making good progress.”
Both players are expected to be major contributors when healthy. The news is particularly encouraging for Dobson, who underwent surgery on a stress fracture in his left foot March 10. The wide receiver showed flashes of being the type of outside receiver the Patriots have been searching for, but the injury has really slowed him down. If fully healthy, the team believes Dobson is a player ready to take the next step and become a major target for Tom Brady.
At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, Dobson is a receiver that has the ability to go up for the ball and become a major factor in the offense. Last season he finished with 37 receptions for 519 yards and four touchdowns. A productive Dobson could really take pressure off Julian Edelman and tight end Rob Gronkowski.
On the defensive side, rookie Dominique Easley adds depth to the defensive line. He was a risky pick in the draft because he tore both ACL’s in a three-season span at the University of Florida. When healthy, Easley provides the type of interior explosiveness that the Patriots have lacked.
With the injury to Chris Jones and both Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly returning from season-ending injuries, Easley’s ability to play will be of major importance as far as depth is concerned. Although neither player went full speed during Monday’s practice, or are expected to be available for any game action, but it is good that they are participating in practice and are on the road towards continued progress.