Dowling's upside intrigues Patriots

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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: Brady and Gisele spotted on Italian island of Capri

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Report: Brady and Gisele spotted on Italian island of Capri

Anyone know any good receivers Tom Brady can work out with on Capri?

With a little over a week left before he can return to the Patriots, Brady and wife, model Gisele Bundchen, were spotted in a restaurant on the island of Capri in Italy in photos published by TMZ.

Brady, of course, is serving his NFL-imposed, four-game Deflategate suspension. He will be allowed to return to the Patriots practice facility on Monday, Oct. 3 and is expected to play in the game in Cleveland on Oct. 9.

Last week, Brady traveled to his alma mater, the University of Michigan, to serve as honorary captain for the Wolverines game against Colorado. 

 

Patriots never really practiced play Brissett took for touchdown run

Patriots never really practiced play Brissett took for touchdown run

FOXBORO -- On a short week leading up to a Thursday night game, time is of the essence. Coaches have to be mindful that there is only so much they can install for their upcoming opponent, and players have to sort through a wealth of information on a compressed schedule. Practice time is almost non-existent. 

That's what makes what the Patriots did against the Texans so impressive. Without any real practice reps to speak of -- they held walkthroughs on Tuesday and Wednesday -- they installed plays they had never run before. Not only did they work, but one of them helped break the game open. 

Jacoby Brissett's 27-yard touchdown run in the first quarter came on a play that the team wouldn't call for Tom Brady. And if they felt like Jimmy Garoppolo could run it, it was one they hadn't installed and run for him. But given the combination of Brissett's athleticism, his ablity to execute play-fakes, and the look the Patriots thought they might get from the Texans, Belichick and his staff believed they could make it work.

Even though there was no opportunity to run it in a live practice setting.

When the time came, Brissett faked a run to the left for LeGarrette Blount, the Texans defense bit, and Brissett smoothly changed direction to run around the right edge. Patriots guard Shaq Mason sought out linebacker Bernardrick McKinney, who Belichick has called one of the best young 'backers in football, and cut him down. That cleared more than enough running room for the rookie third-rounder. 

Because Houston corner Jonathan Joseph was in man coverage on receiver Malcolm Mitchell, he turned and ran with Mitchell up the sideline and only finally turned around to see Brissett coming at him when it was too late. Brissett made a move to avoid free safety Andre Hal and dove into the end zone to give the Patriots a two-score lead.

"It was just we felt like we could get what we ended up getting," Belichick said. "We thought we could get outside, and there wasn’t really anybody left out there but the corner who was in man coverage and it’s just a question of – once we got outside – it was just a question of when the free safety would get there or if an inside linebacker would be able to get there quick enough. But because LeGarrette flowed across the formation that dragged the linebackers with him . . . there was, as you saw, nobody left."

Belichick credited players with being able to take the concepts given to them with that play and executing despite their limited time with it.

"The timing of the play between Jacoby and Shaq was really perfect, which is remarkable considering the fact we’ve never run the play other than just a walkthrough," Belichick said. "But Shaq cut McKinney down at the perfect time as Jacoby was getting outside of him. McKinney just didn’t really have a chance to recover."

There were other plays that were new to the Patriots for Thursday's game, both offensively and defensively; the counter option out of a two-back pistol set is one we have not seen from the Patriots this year in a regular-season game or a training camp practice. But they were able to hit on them successfully, which Belichick explained was a nod to the work that both the starters and the scout team did in walkthroughs that week.

"We gave them a lot of new things," Belichick said after the game. "We ran some plays that we haven’t run all year. We put them in and walked through them. We never got a chance to really run them, and a couple of those hit big. Defensively we tried to do some things that we just didn’t even practice them. All we could do was walk through them. It’s just not the same as repping them, but they understood . . . They’re a smart group. They’re an astute group. They understood how it needed to try and fit against the Texans and then we got out there on the field and they executed it very well tonight.

"Just a tremendous credit to those guys – the players on the scout team, our defensive and offensive scout teams, to try and replicate the Texans’ plays so we could at least walk through them. Again, we didn’t really run them at any tempo but at least we walked through and they give us a great look, and some of the communication that we needed to be able to execute those plays was really as a result of the scout team giving us the opportunity to practice it, and if we made a mistake correct it in practice and get it right tonight.

"It was really a great, great team effort over the last four days. The guys that played, a lot of guys that didn’t play, like I said, the coaching staff, not just the coordinators, the assistant coaches. We had a lot of guys really work hard this week. It’s gratifying to see those kinds of results. Not that we don’t work hard every week, but this is a tough week."