Patriots place Ras-I Dowling on season-ending IR

The New England Patriots already struggling secondary took another big hit on Friday afternoon as the team placed cornerback Ras-I Dowling on the Injured Reserve list, effectively ending his 2012 season.

Dowling, the 33rd overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, tore a muscle in his thigh during the Patriots’ victory over the Jets last Sunday. His rookie season also ended prematurely when he was placed on the IR for a torn hip labrum last year.

According to sources, Dowling’s thigh injury is serious enough to likely keep him out until at least Week 17 but not serious enough to require surgery. He is expected to be full-strength by the time offseason workouts roll around.

This is a tough break for both Dowling and the Patriots, as the former college standout at Virginia was beginning to get more reps on the field for the Pats, who currently have the league’s 29th ranked pass defense with 290.0 yards allowed per game.

Those New England fans who were wondering “Can it get any worse?” may be about to find out.