FOXBOROUGH - Rookie Aaron Dobson believes there's a good chance he'll return to game play on Sunday against the Ravens.
"I think so. I'm just going through the week. I'm just trying to progress and see how it feels during the week," Dobson said on Thursday.
The second round pick, who suffered a foot injury against Denver and has missed the last three games, returned to practice last Friday, and was on the field for the first two practices this week.
Dobson has 35 catches for 492 yards and four touchdowns in nine-plus games this season, and was starting to show progress at the time of his injury, with 13 receptions for 228 yards and three scores in the three games before his injury.
During the forced break, the 22-year old has tried to maximize his time.
"I feel like it can affect you if you let it. But I just stayed in my playbook, I tried to keep an edge," Dobson said. "I didn’t want to fall off my playbook and lose track of my plays; so I stayed in the playbook and tried to keep on task."
Dobson continued that taking mental reps was really all he could do while he rehabbed and waited for his foot to get better.
"It's a little frustrating, but I'm trying to keep my head in the right place, don't lose track of what I've been doing," he said. "I'm just trying to stay on the right track."
While he did keep up with the offense, Dobson did acknowledge that his conditioning has slipped a little.
New England would welcome Dobson's return, particularly in the red zone. Last week the Patriots were just 1-for-4 converting touchdowns in the red area, a sharp decline from the success they were having when Rob Gronkowski was healthy for six-plus games.
At 6-foot-3, Dobson is the tallest receiver the Patriots have, and is better at winning jump balls in the end zone against defensive backs; he also is the only thing close to a vertical threat the offense has with Gronkowski out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL.
He's getting ready for the Baltimore secondary and cornerback Jimmy Smith, whom he may get acquainted with if he's in uniform.
"He's a good player; going to have to go out there and compete with him," Dobson said. "I think he's a good all-around corner. He can be physical, he can run, so I just have to be on my game."
It won't be much different for the rest of his teammates against the Ravens.
"They have a good secondary, so us as receivers we have to go out there and play great – great routes, block well, so we just have to have an all-around good game," Dobson said.