FOXBOROUGH – Receiver Aaron Dobson has been on the practice field all week, which is a good sign for his availability on Sunday, but he isn't sure whether or not he'll be in uniform for the AFC Championship game.
The rookie, who aggravated a stress fracture in his foot against Buffalo on Dec. 29 and sat out last week's game against the Colts, said in the locker room on Friday that he's feeling better, but taking things one day at a time.
"It’s frustrating, but I’m trying to improve, keep getting better, keep rehabbing and keep doing what I have to do to go on the trip," Dobson said.
The problem first flared up against Denver in Week 12, and Dobson missed the next three games. He returned in Week 16 against the Ravens, and then pulled up in the first half against Buffalo as he was chasing a deep pass.
He did not practice during New England's postseason bye week or the days leading up to the Divisional game with the Colts, returning on Wednesday as the Patriots began preparations for the Broncos.
"It was hard, just to watch my team battle [Indianapolis] without me but they pulled it out, so I’m glad I get another opportunity hopefully to get back on the field this Sunday," Dobson said.
Just as he did during his three-game layoff, Dobson said he's made sure to study his playbook and take mental reps, doing everything he can to stay sharp mentally. When he returned against Baltimore, there was some rust to knock off in terms of timing and returning to game shape, but "nothing too crazy."
A healthy Dobson could be a big asset for the Patriots' offense. As the team's best deep threat, he does a lot of his work outside the numbers, while teammates Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and even Austin Collie work the middle of the field. Having Dobson could prevent the Denver defense from crowding the middle of the field to minimize things for Edelman/Amendola/Collie.
Asked about being mentioned as a player the Patriots will need, the 6-foot-3 receiver from Marshall University said, "I just try to go out there and do my job, I don’t really try to put too much on my shoulders, you know, I’ve got to go out there and do what I have to do and do what I have to do to help the team."
Dobson had 37 catches for 519 yards and four touchdowns in 12 regular season games.