Ras-I Dowling continues routine of improvement

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Ras-I Dowling continues routine of improvement

FOXBORO -- Cornerback Ras-I Dowling was ready to go on Thursday. It was Day 3 of Patriots mini-camp and he had that left ankle taped as he took the practice field.
He, along with the rest of the team, walked back into the stadium 15 minutes later.
"We were just kind of shocked," Dowling drawled with a smile. "Everybody was ready to practice. A lot of guys were in the training room getting taped and then we got that news: 'You can go home a day early.'"
Whether or not the Patriots have cut mini-camp short in the past is still being debated -- sides taken depending on memory only. Deion Branch said it happened "back in the old days," but others insist Belichick's never done it in New England.
Either way, the players are now left to train on their own until July.
Dowling, who injured his hip during Week 2 of his rookie year and was relegated to IR, is still rehabbing. He had a successful surgery and has participated fully in OTAs and mini-camp (the ankle tape is for a college injury).
An update he gave reporters on the stadium field was breezy. It doesn't sound like any reason he won't be back and healthy in 2012.
"Dealing with the trainers. It's a great group we've got there with the training staff. Just getting in there with them -- they're giving me stuff to do. And just continuing to work hard.
"I think, conditioning-wise, I'll be working on my back-pedaling and different stuff. Doing it all."
Despite missing so much time, Dowling doesn't feel disadvantaged. He said it was good for him being around the team, watching film, learning the playbook.
Could he get back into a starting role by August?
Too early to tell.
"I can't tell you right now," he said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to help the team. I try to come out every year and just train as hard as I can in the offseason and try to have a better year every year."

Patriots bolster receiver depth by adding Brown to practice squad

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Patriots bolster receiver depth by adding Brown to practice squad

FOXBORO -- The Patriots have added some receiver depth to their locker room by signing Da'Ron Brown to their practice squad. 

Brown, 25, was a seventh-round pick of the Chiefs in 2015 and spent his rookie season on the Kansas City practice squad. At Northern Illinois, the 6-foot, 199-pounder caught 155 passes in four years, accumulating 2,295 yards and scoring 19 touchdowns. He also rushed for two scores in his career. As a senior in 2014, he caught 68 passes for 1,065 yards. 

With the signing, the Patriots have filled out their practice squad. The team has had an opening on its 10-man unit since the Colts signed away receiver Devin Street for their 53-man roster.

With just four receivers on the Patriots roster, not including special teams ace Matthew Slater, they've loaded up on receiver depth through their practice squad with Brown, Devin Lucien and DeAndrew White.

Brissett, Garoppolo both practicing for Patriots on Tuesday

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Brissett, Garoppolo both practicing for Patriots on Tuesday

FOXBORO -- The Patriots had both of their qurterbacks on the field and suited up for Tuesday's shells-and-sweats practice on the fields behind Gillette Stadium. 

Both Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder) and Jacoby Brissett (thumb) are dealing with injuries, but both were present for the session, as were the rest of their teammates on the 53-man roster. 

Brissett was spotted in the Patriots locker room before practice with no brace or wrap of any kind on his thumb, but he did have his right thumb taped when out on the field. 

Patriots tight end AJ Derby was the lone player in a black practice jersey, indicating that he has been named practice player of the week. Running low on quarterbacks, Derby may have served as the scout-team quarterback as the Patriots defense prepared for the Texans. He played the position at Iowa and Arkansas before changing positions.

The Patriots have four practices scheduled this week, and the team will release injury reports, as usual, on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.