Dobson endures ups and downs in debut

Dobson endures ups and downs in debut
September 13, 2013, 1:30 am
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FOXBORO -- Aaron Dobson's NFL debut had a little bit of everything. When it was over, it was a lesson in the humbling nature of his first job out of college.

It began with the highest of highs. On his first NFL target, the Patriots rookie wideout made his first NFL catch and scored his first NFL touchdown.

Lined up in an old-school formation where he served as a wing back -- just off the line but tight with tackle Nate Solder -- Dobson faked as if blocking for a running play to his side of the line of scrimmage. Tom Brady made a play-action fake and hit Dobson in stride for an easy 39-yard score.

As he ran the final 10 yards, the 6-foot-3 receiver out of Marshall held his gloved left index finger in the air to celebrate.

"It was definitely a dropped coverage," Dobson said with a smile. "I just released -- downfield was wide open. I already knew what it was going to be so I was just excited to get my first [touchdown]."

The glean from Dobson's first score quickly wore off, however. Midway through the second quarter, Brady targeted him on back-to-back throws. One fell incomplete near the sideline. The second should have been caught. Brady made a strong throw that hit Dobson's hands and would have gone for at least a 50-yard completion had he reeled it in. Instead, he bobbled it and it fell to the turf.

"That's definitely not acceptable to have drops," Dobson said. "I'm a receiver and that's my job to catch the ball."

Less than two minutes later, Brady blew his top in frustration. He tried to hit Dobson in the endzone for a 12-yard score on third down, but Dobson was not ready for the pass and it bounced around his ankles incomplete.

The Patriots got a 30-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski on the next play, but Brady was irate on the sidelines. The quarterback could be seen screaming from his seat on the bench -- though it wasn't clear to whom his words were directed -- and mouthing the words "wide open!"

Dobson seemed to handle his quarterback's reaction well after the game.

"He's just being a vet," Dobson said. "He's experienced way more than we have. Some of the looks we might see out there, [he's] just talking to us and giving us pointers out there."

Very loud, very demonstrative pointers.

"Well, we have a long way to go," Brady said. "No one’s coming to rescue and save the day, so we’ve just got to fight through it and have got to work harder and do better and try to be more consistent."

Brady admitted that his immediate reactions to missed plays may have a counterproductive effect on his younger teammates.

"I think I have to do a better job with my body language," he said. "I definitely can improve that. I wouldn’t say it's a real strong point of mine right now. We'll just try to keep doing better. That's what we’ve got to do."

With Danny Amendola out, Dobson was pressed into action as one of Brady's top targets, along with Julian Edelman (13 catches) and fellow rookie Kenbrell Thompkins.

After missing New England's Week 1 game in Buffalo due to injury, Dobson was targeted 10 times in all, finishing with 56 yards receiving and a touchdown. It was a significant increase in his role, but he handled the ups and downs with a veteran's perspective after the game.

"You gotta have a short memory," he said. "You gotta leave the play, whether it's a bad play that happens, you just gotta leave it there and move on to the next series and next job."