Dobson's availability an 'X' factor for Patriots

Dobson's availability an 'X' factor for Patriots
December 22, 2013, 1:45 pm
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BALTIMORE – Neither Josh Boyce nor Kenbrell Thompkins made the trip to Baltimore, which means the list of wideouts who absolutely, positively will play is Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Austin Collie.

With Michael Hoomanawanui and Matthew Mulligan running around at tight end, the Patriots' potential pass receiving corps doesn’t look so good.

None of these players have the length/speed combination to present an outside-the-numbers downfield threat. Which means the Ravens will -- in theory -- be able to play up on the receivers, disrupt routes and send extra pressures and blitzes to make Tom Brady get the ball out more quickly. None of these players is a consistent threat to run past a corner and get separation, so the safety help in the middle of the field can lurk underneath.

That’s why the availability and effectiveness of Aaron Dobson is critical to the Patriots offensive hopes Sunday.

Dobson made the trip to Baltimore after missing the last three games. The Boston Herald reported that Dobson had a stress fracture in his foot that he played with for several games.

Thompkins is down with a hip injury while Boyce’s right ankle was injured last week in Miami.

That leaves Dobson as the only member of the rookie troika with a chance to make an impact in a pivotal game. His presence will help. But, as the game wears on, his effectiveness will come to the fore as well. If he’s significantly hampered by the foot, Brady’s job will be that much more difficult.