Early in last week's game against Minnesota, Aaron Dobson caught a 13-yard pass from Tom Brady. For the rest of the afternoon, the QB only looked Dobson's way one other time, and that pass fell incomplete.
But the second-year wide receiver, coming off off-season surgery on his left foot, maintains he's staying focused on the positives after his first game appearance of the young season.
"It was good to get my first catch out of the way early in the game. It kind of got the rust off me," he told reporters Friday. "It was great, just being out there with my teammates, coming off the injury. Great to be back in the mix.
"I feel like I was doing my job, getting open. The ball just happened to go to another person. I just have to keep doing what I'm doing and getting open."
Dobson was inactive in Week 1 against Miami after missing a significant portion of training camp and the preseason. His activation in Minnesota came at the expense of fellow second-year wideout Kenbrell Thompkins.
In all likelihood, at least one receiver on the 53-man active roster will be forced to sit this Sunday in the home opener versus Oakland. The uncertainty of who that will be is good for Dobson and the other receivers, he believes.
"It's always competition. Every week. Day in, day out. Just go out there and practice hard. Competition always makes us better. We're pushing each other and holding each other accountable.
"I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing," he professed, "trying to get open, hope the ball comes my way."
Slowing down a fast Carr
Raiders rookie QB David Carr has been getting a lot of respect this week from his opponents in Foxborough.
"You definitely have to respect him," remarked OLB/DE Rob Ninkovich. "He's a good quarterback, can run a little bit. When you have a young, rookie quarterback, best thing you can do is try to get some pressure on him, make him make some quick decisions.
"You have to be smarter on the left-hand side of the line, my side, just to make sure he doesn't scramble to his right – that makes his throws easier. That's where most right-handed quarterbacks want to go. Definitely have to keep him in the pocket and let him throw the ball from the pocket."
"He'll be a great quarterback," predicted linebacker/co-captain Jerod Mayo. "Very mobile. He'll be a challenge for us, not only in the back end, but also up front. Keeping him in the pocket. You know, a lot of people don't talk about how athletic he is, but he can move. It'll take 11 guys to slow him down."
New England's defense could be excused for feeling confident after their performance against the Vikings last week, during which they caused four turnovers, six sacks, and a blocked field goal.
"Last week was good for us," continued Ninkovich, "just to get in and do the work that we needed to do. This week's a new week. Got to do it all over again. Anytime you can turn the ball over as many times as we did last week, to help our offense, help the team win, it's a good thing."
Mayo was thrilled to welcome media at his locker Friday afternoon, as the main topic of discussion was his newborn daughter, Chyanne. Mayo was excused from Wednesday's practice to be part of the miracle with his wife, Chantel.
"It's a blessing. Everyone's doing well," he proclaimed.
While Chantel handles the feeding duties, Mayo deals with the aftermath.
"I change diapers," he revealed. "I do change diapers. I'm pretty good at that."
Having a child in the middle of an NFL week might not seem like the most convenient time for a player, but Mayo – a 28-year-old father of three – has been taking it in stride and getting plenty of sleep.
"It's been good. The first couple of days aren't bad. It's after the first week that it's a problem. It was a great week. The coaches, they handled it well. I missed practice, but I was with my wife and my kids, so it was a good day. No stress."
So, which is more difficult: preparing for an NFL opponent, or fatherhood?
"Oohh," Mayo cringed. "I'm going to leave that one alone… they both provide challenges."
All 63 Patriots players – 53 active roster, 10 practice squad – were on the field for the start of Friday's workout, including RB Shane Vereen. He was added to the injury report this week with a shoulder issue.
Vereen, a California native, was asked Friday if he grew up watching the Raiders.
"No, the Raiders were not my favorite team growing up," he declared. "A lot of my friends, though, yeah."
He laughed when someone asked who those friends were pulling for this weekend.
"I think," Vereen answered, "they're supporting me and rooting for the Raiders."