FOXBORO -- Friday, Aaron Dobson talked about how he's recently settled into the Patriots offense.
"Before it was like, you can just tell I'm thinking a lot," the rookie receiver admitted. "But I feel like the thinking is going down and I'm just out there playing."
On Sunday, he illustrated those words on the field.
Dobson caught five passes for a career-high 130 yards and two touchdowns in New England's 55-31 win over Pittsburgh.
His nine targets were not a season high, that number is 11, but it's the fact he's finally taking advantage of his opportunities that's impressive. Dobson caught 45.8 percent of the passes thrown his way in New England's first three games. In the last four contests, that number has improved to 58 percent.
"It feels good," he smiled in Sunday's postgame. "All this hard work and having the outcome of the game go like that. It's big, building up my confidence -- we've got the bye week [next] -- but for the week after that."
Even the types of catches Dobson is making signal growth, rather than good luck and bad defense. His first touchdown grab is one example.
New England was up just 27-24 at the start of the fourth quarter. Brady resumed the previous frame's drive and got to Pittsburgh's 17-yard line after three plays. On the subsequent second-and-7, Dobson took off down the left sideline. Brady threw it back-shoulder. It was a play the pair hadn't gotten right all season; it was one they missed on the right side of the field earlier in the game.
But this time Dobson found the ball. He diagnosed the pass quickly and adjusted his body brilliantly at the front corner of the end zone.
"I think that's our first back-shoulder we hit all year, so I feel like they're going to start coming now," he grinned.
"All the work is paying off. All the extra things we do, meetings and extra stuff on the field, it's all paying off."
Dobson scored again in the quarter, two drives later. New England was in a first-and-10 situation on its own 19-yard line. Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor bit on the run and just like that, the coverage was blown. Dobson started streaking toward the end zone. His left hand went up, signaling Brady, around Pittsburgh's 35: "Give me the ball."
"He's got that ability with that speed," Brady noted. "Once he gets behind a defense it's hard to catch him because he runs really well."
The rookie receiver looked up and sighted the ball just in time. It ended up an 81-yard touchdown catch.
"I'm just learning," Dobson said. "I'm just getting comfortable in the offense. I've still got a long way to go but I'm just more comfortable than I was when I first got here."