Dowling's upside intrigues Patriots

458190.jpg

Dowling's upside intrigues Patriots

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO - Ras-I Dowling was projected as a second-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft but he decided to go back to Virginia for one more season. It was an on-field disaster.But in the end, the potential, old tape and character of Dowling seems to have carried the day as he wound up the 33rd overall pick in the 2011 draft. The Patriots selected the 6-1, 198 pound corner with the first pick in the second round. The final straw for Dowling's final season came in the third-to-last game of the year. "He was on the field for six snaps, one of them resulting in a penalty," wrote Doug Doughty of The Roanoke Timesbefore he fell to the ground in front of UVa's bench. He was helped to the locker room, only to return on crutches and with his left foot in an orthopedic boot.Virginia coach, Mike London said that Dowling's injury was unrelated to the knee and hamstring injuries that have plagued him all season."I don't know if it's the same leg or not," London said, "but, it's bizarre."Dowling had played in five games for the Cavaliers (4-6, 1-5 ACC) and started twice. In one of his appearances, he was on the field for three plays against Eastern Michigan.London left the impression that Dowling's hamstring was more of an issue than the knee, which "bothered him a little bit, but he felt he could play through some things," London said.Dowling, who went to Deep Creek High School and spent a postgraduate year at Hargrave Military Academy, was projected as a possible second-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft before deciding he would return for a fourth season at UVa."Obviously, that's probably the biggest recruit we'll get this year," said London, newly named as head coach when Dowling made his decision.Dowling finished this season with 15 tackles and one pass break-up."It's unfortunate because he's such a great young man, great captain, great leader," London said. "I just saw him a few minutes ago and Ras-I was upbeat. Ras-I is prayerful and his faith is very meaningful to him."Here's some video of Dowling in which Virginia defensive coordinator Jim Reid pledges undying love and respect to the young man. (Caution...hyperbole). So why Dowling? Look at the league and the competition, I guess. It's a passing league with every team owning long receivers. Between Devin McCourty, Leigh Bodden and Dowling, the Patriots have corners who go 5-10, 6-1 and 6-1. Add in Kyle Arrington and Darius Butler - both in the 5-9 range - and you have guys that can cover outside and in the slot. A good tackler, a good special teams guy, it's like Devin McCourty out of the bargain bin. Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Report: Patriots, Gronkowski restructure contract for 2017 season

Report: Patriots, Gronkowski restructure contract for 2017 season

The Patriots and Rob Gronkowski have restructured the tight end’s contract for the coming season, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. 

The reworked deal can bump Gronkowski’s salary for the 2017 season from $5.25 million to $10.75 million, according to Schefter. 

Gronkowski was limited by injury to just eight games last season. He had 25 receptions for 540 yards and three touchdowns, all of which were career lows. 

The 28-year-old is entering his eighth NFL season since being selected by the Pats in the second round of the 2010 draft. He has played played in at least 15 regular-season games in four of his first seven season, though he’s twice played fewer than 10. 

Brandin Cooks ready to bring back arrow celebration after NFL rule change

Brandin Cooks ready to bring back arrow celebration after NFL rule change

Tuesday’s announcement from Roger Goodell that the NFL is “relaxing” its rules on celebrations is good news for at least one Patriot. 

That would be Brandin Cooks, who began celebrating the rule change on Twitter not long after the league made its announcement. 

Cooks, whom the Patriots acquired from the Saints this offseason in a trade that sent first and third-round picks to New Orleans, lost his favorite celebration last season when it was made clear that miming archery was off-limits. Josh Norman was fined $10,000 last season for such a celebration. 

Following Norman’s fine, Cooks lamented the league’s decision to punish what Cooks had previously done in reference to a Bible verse (Psalms 144:6). 

"Send forth lightning and scatter your enemy, and shoot your arrows and rout them," Cooks told the New Orleans Advocate. "I just remember it sticking with me for such a long time, I remember thinking, maybe I can do something with this."

Added Cooks: ”I’ve been doing it for three years now, and there was never a complaint about it. Now, all of a sudden, there is. It just reminds me that, it's almost as if they try to take so much away from us, but for something like this, that means so much to someone that has nothing to do with violence, it's frustrating. I'll definitely continue to speak my opinion about it, and if they have a problem with it, so be it."

When Tuesday’s news emerged, Cooks and former Saints teammate Mark Ingram were quick to react.