Rookie Duke Dawson could see his first NFL game action this Sunday when the Patriots face the Jets in New York. The second-round cornerback was slowed this summer by a hamstring injury that eventually landed him on injured reserve in Week 1 of the regular season.
However, at the end of October, he began practicing again as the first of New England's two IR players designated for return to the active roster (running back Rex Burkhead is the other). Upon returning from Tennessee in Week 11, the Patriots officially promoted Dawson back onto the 53-man roster.
Before heading out for the Thanksgiving holiday, Dawson divulged that he's been playing slot corner exclusively since his return to practice, but that he's back at full strength and available whenever and wherever the Patriots need him.
"If I had to play 50 snaps, I could play 50 snaps," he declared. "Whatever the coaches want me to do, I'm here to do it."
After Wednesday's practice, wide receiver Julian Edelman remarked that Dawson "doesn't back down. He's great to compete against."
Of course, it's also possible that Dawson could be among the seven Patriots who must be declared inactive for the game. After sitting out more than half the season, the rookie is clearly eager for an opportunity to show his club what he can do, but remains thankful, even if he doesn't see action Sunday, for the chance to be part of the team again.
"It's very exciting. As a competitor, you always want to go out and compete and help the team any way you can. That's been me my whole life. Just paying attention to every little detail, because you never know when your name's going to be called. So, I always want to be in tune, even if I'm not playing.
"At the end of the day," added Dawson, "it's football. It's a fun sport. You get to go out and enjoy every moment with [your teammates] and build relationships and that's what I've done since I've been here."