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AFC Championship Game: Aaron Dobson Will Be Critical For New England Patriots

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Aaron Dobson

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

After missing last week’s tilt against the Indianapolis Colts, Aaron Dobson returned to practice Wednesday for the New England Patriots. His return to practice this early bodes well for the rookie wide receiver’s status on Sunday, though nothing is set in stone. Nevertheless, Patriots fans can only hope that Dobson will be available.

Believe it or not, Dobson was the most productive rookie wide receiver on the Patriots during the regular season. His 37 receptions for 519 yards and four touchdowns led the way despite the fact that Dobson only played in 12 games. And he was not even involved in some of those games, rotating with Kenbrell Thompkins from time to time.

There are two elements that Dobson brings to the table. The first is a red zone target for Tom Brady. While the Patriots put up 43 points against the Colts last Saturday, it can safely be said that most of that was due to the running game.

Things probably will not be the same on Sunday as Peyton Manning will probably coax Brady into more of a shootout. If so, Brady is going to need Dobson to help score touchdowns. Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola are nice and all, but neither can be considered much help in the red zone.

The other thing that Dobson brings is formation flexibility. If Thompkins is healthy (which is a story in and of itself), then Josh McDaniels will have the ability to run a true three-wide receiver formation. That would mean Dobson and Thompkins line up on the outside while Edelman runs from the slot.

So now you can see why having Dobson is a must. The Patriots cannot be one-dimensional by relying on the running game, and Brady is going to need his best rookie wide receiver to get healthy. That will help bring balance to the field.

Philip Alexander is a New England Patriots writer for Follow him on Twitter @steely0906, “like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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