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Dobson improving; almost-perfect attendance at Friday practice

Rookie WR Aaron Dobson has been able to practice every day this week. It remains to be seen, however, if he'll be healthy enough to suit up for Sunday's AFC Championship Game in Denver.

Dobson's injured left foot kept him out of several games toward season's end, but he returned for the regular season finale, only to aggravate the injury and miss the next two weeks of practice, plus the Divisional Round playoff game against Indianapolis last Saturday.

In the locker room before today's practice, Dobson spoke to reporters – normally an encouraging sign that an injured Patriots player is on the verge of returning to game action. Dobson had to settle for "mental reps," as he put it, but is hoping to be ready to go again against the Broncos.

"I don't really know what my situation is going to be this weekend," he maintained, "but I'll go out there today, see how it feels, and go from there. Right now, I feel like it's OK. I have to do what I have to do. I'm trying not to think about it, go out there and do what I can do, and do it the best I can.

"It was hard, just to watch my team battle without me," the rookie continued. "They pulled it out [against the Colts], so, I'm glad to get another opportunity to hopefully get back out on the field this Sunday."

The Patriots are departing Friday afternoon for Denver, to get an extra day getting their bodies conditioned to the mile-high altitude and two-hour time zone difference. Dobson had an equipment bag at his locker while talking with the media, which suggests he's at least going to make the trip with his teammates. It's possible, though, that he could be a game-time decision.

Meanwhile, were it not for rookie linebacker Steve Beauharnais' absence, the Patriots would have had perfect attendance at practice for two days in a row. It's unclear, as of Friday morning, why Beauharnais wasn't on the field.

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