Aaron Dobson's Health Is Key To New England Patriots' Success

By Michael LeDuc
Aaron Dobson
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in two weeks, New England Patriots rookie receiver Aaron Dobson was on the practice field. After missing last week’s Divisional Round playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts, Dobson could be a key component against the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship.

After a 235-yard ground attack by the Patriots’ running back trio of LeGarrette Blount, Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen, it would seem that Dobson would simply be a non-factor. It seems foolish to think that “Aaron DROP-son”, as Patriots fans know him, could make a significant impact in this game. After all, he is a rookie, and to expect him to succeed on such a big stage may be thinking way too highly of him.

However, for the second-round pick out of Marshall to make his mark in this game, he doesn’t exactly need to be catching passes or making big plays, though that would be a bonus. What will make Dobson so vital to the offense is his presence alone.

Tom Brady‘s most productive receiver is Julian Edelman, the former quarterback who stands at 5-foot-10 and just under 200 pounds. After Edelman, Danny Amendola is the most talented receiver on the team. Danny, who hasn’t been playing at full strength, is 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds. And then there’s Shane Vereen. The running back is a terrific pass catcher that can create mismatches and is extremely quick. He is under 6-feet tall as well.

As good as these players are, they excel at running routes and catching balls in the middle of the field. The combination of the power run and the space these receivers occupy makes it easier for the Broncos to defend the Patriots.

The Broncos did an excellent job of stopping the run against the San Diego Chargers, so we know they are capable of doing the same to the Pats. All that Denver needs to do is stack up the line of scrimmage and clog up the middle of the field, taking away the running game and the ability for Edelman, Amendola and Vereen to operate. This is why having Dobson on the field is so critical.

At 6-foot-3, Dobson is a respectable threat outside the numbers as well as down the field. New England needs the 22-year old in order to open up the middle of the field for the running game and the slot receivers. Although Dobson isn’t exactly the scariest or most reliable receiver, he has shown that he is capable of making big plays. He’s good enough to draw attention from the Broncos’ secondary.

I’m not asking for Dobson to make 10 receptions for 150 yards, but his presence on the outside will greatly benefit the offense. It keeps the Broncos from clogging up the middle, and the Patriots would be able to continue using their powerful, dominating running attack against the Broncos’ defense.

With such small receivers, an efficient running game and without a catching tight end, Dobson becomes an important part of the offense. If he plays, it’ll be huge for the Patriots. Don’t underestimate Dobson’s skills either as he has the ability to burn any of the Broncos’ defensive backs. The question is, will he seize the opportunities and make plays? Or will he simply be a decoy?

Either way, his presence is extremely beneficial to the Patriots’ offense.

Michael LeDuc is a Boston Celtics writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @mike_leduc, and add him on Google.

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