Bill Belichick praises Aaron Dobson, Chris Harper for hard work
By Cameron McDonough
Aaron Dobson hasn’t exactly stood out on the field this season.
The New England Patriots wide receiver has 12 receptions on 19 targets for 124 yards. But, as Patriots head coach Bill Belichick pointed out Wednesday, Dobson’s hard work on the practice field is just as important, if not more, for the team.
“He’s been out there every day working hard,” Belichick said. “He’s another guy that shows up in practice a lot — similar to (Chris) Harper — where he makes a lot of catches in practice against the defense and gets open. A lot of times he’s playing the other team’s best receiver — or Chris is, depending on who the guy is and what the position is.
“He’s been out there. His timing, his overall technique and consistency have improved. He’s had a good — I know it doesn’t always show up on Sunday’s — but I would say he’s had a good year.”
Dobson’s performance will be under an even bigger microscope going forward with Julian Edelman out for six to eight weeks with a broken foot.
The same goes for Harper, who the Patriots signed as an undrafted free agent in the offseason. Harper stood out in the preseason with his 15 receptions for 150 yards and one touchdown. He was on New England’s practice squad since Sept. 17, but he was promoted to the active rosterafter Edelman’s injury.
“He’s worked hard,” Belichick said. “A lot of times, like last week playing (Odell) Beckham in practice. … I think he’s taken the preseason and built on that, built on his opportunities in the regular season.”
But that’s not the only thing Harper worked on in New England. He also saw significant time on special teams as a punt returner, which is something he did during his three seasons at the University of California.
“Chris gave us some plays in preseason, too,” Belichick said. “Again, that’s not the easiest position (punt returning) to play at that time of year.A lot of the players you have on your return teams aren’t exactly — some haven’t really played there because they played defense in college or they were big stars in college or whatever. So a lot of times the blocking and the timing is not perfect, let’s put it that way.
“I thought Chris handled the ball well in those situations.”
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