FOXBORO -- Aaron Dobson was back on the Patriots practice fields and in full pads on Tuesday, but his workload was light.
Dobson participated in individual drills early on in the session and then sat out for all of the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 work in New England’s first joint practice with the Eagles. Despite his relative inactivity, the second-year receiver felt good about being in uniform and with his teammates over the course of the last two days of practice.
It's been a welcome change compared to his rehab work.
"It was hard, you know,” Dobson said of sitting out of practices for the first three weeks of camp. “It’s always ups and downs, adversity you gotta go through. But I’m just happy to be back out here now. I’m just progressing and seeing how it’s going to go for the rest of the week and before the season starts.”
Dobson is coming off of a rookie season in which he caught 37 balls for 519 yards and four touchdowns in 12 games. The 2013 second-round pick stands at 6-foot-3 and figured to be Tom Brady’s top option outside the numbers going into this season, but a foot injury that required offseason surgery forced Dobson to miss valuable reps -- not only in camp, but in the spring during OTAs and minicamp.
Dobson's return, nearly a month before the Patriots season-opener, leaves him plenty of time to get on the same page with Brady. In fact, the 23-year-old said after Tuesday’s practice that he doesn’t exactly need to make up for lost time on the field. For him, reps in the receivers meeting room were just as valuable.
“I feel like I did that already,” Dobson said. “I feel like I stayed attentive in meetings . . . Just staying around the game and doing what I can do, staying in my playbook and just staying ahead.”
Dobson appears to be moving well on his surgically-repaired foot, but he’ll be tested further once he’s allowed to participate in full-contact team drills. Whenever that happens, the Patriots should have a well-stocked receiving corps with Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Brandon LaFell, Kenbrell Thompkins, Josh Boyce, Matthew Slater, Brian Tyms and Dobson among the candidates for roster spots.