It’s been an interesting season so far for Patriots wide receiver Aaron Dobson, who now just past the halfway point has become a key component in New England’s offense.

So far this season Dobson is second on the team in receptions with 31, and he’s tied with Julian Edelman for the team lead with 21 receiving first downs through nine games. He’s also tied with Kenbrell Thompkins with a team-leading four touchdowns.

Aaron Dobson has quietly become one of the Patriots most consistent receivers so far this season. (USA TODAY Images)

The rookie is coming off of his best performance in terms of total yards thus far, catching five passes for 130 yards including an 81-yard touchdown against the Steelers and also finished with another from 17-yards out. He also accounted for four of New England’s seventeen receiving first downs.

Going all the way back to April it seemed like the team had some interest in him, especially after witnessing quite the montage of video footage that they had put together during the team’s annual draft party of Dobson that left quite a few people talking about the Marshall product once the event was over.  At the time he seemed like he could have been a great fit in the offense with Tom Brady throwing him the football, and now months later it’s all come to fruition.

The interesting thing about Dobson is the fact he’s a perimeter threat as well as a player who has also not had a problem catching the ball over the middle of the field.  He’s a guy that they’ve moved all around in general, and Sunday was a great example of that.  Of his five receptions, he caught two short passes on the left side of the field, two deep passes on the left side, a pass over the middle, and a deep pass on the right side of the field.

Overall his production this season breaks down like this:

Short Left: 11 Targets, 7 catches, 55 yards, 1 TD
Deep Left: 9 Targets, 4 receptions, 143 yards, 2 TD”s
Short Middle: 14 Targets, 9 receptions, 127 yards
Deep Middle: None
Short Right: 15 targets, 10 receptions, 109 yards, 1 TD
Deep Right: 9 targets, 1 reception, 21 yards

As we saw on Sunday after his 81-yard touchdown reception, Dobson has shown he can be a big play receiver and so far he’s done just that, including two plays of over 50 yards, the most of any other player on the team this season.  He also has one of the fewest totals of players who have made a reception of five yards or less, with just five this season.

He’s been a strong performer on third down this season, and is third on the team in conversions with seven through nine games, including a touchdown.

Needless to say it’s been a strong start for the rookie out of Marshall who seems to be coming into his own.  It’s been a long time since the Patriots have had a rookie receiver come in and make an impact, and hopefully he’ll have a strong finish in the weeks ahead.

GOOD NEWS ON NINKOVICH:

The Patriots got a scare on Sunday in Pittsburgh after linebacker Rob Ninkovich suffered a foot injury during the contest and was taken to the locker room.  Granted he returned and things seemed fine, but on Tuesday he was spotted at practice with the rest of his teammates, which is a sign that whatever it was, it’s not serious and that he’ll likely be back in action when the team returns from their week off.  Ninkovich is a big key to the Patriots pass rush, having finished Sunday’s game against the Steelers with another good outing, including a quarterback hurry and a sack on Ben Roethlisberger.  Overall this season he has three sacks along with nine quarterback hits, with the latter stat being the second most on the team.

PATRIOTS BRING IN SIX PLAYERS FOR A WORKOUT:

It appears the Patriots are continuing to stay prepared in the event of an injury, with ESPN BOSTON’S Field Yates reporting on Tuesday that the Patriots brought in  six players for workouts, including two punters, a kicker, and two long snappers.  They also worked out offensive tackle R.J. Mattes, who had previously worked out with the team.  Obviously at this point they have to be happy with what they’ve seen from punter Ryan Allen and kicker Stephen Gostkowksi, but considering their bad luck with respect to injuries in recent weeks, it seems that they’re making sure their bases are covered in the event something happens to either one.

ON TO THIS MORNING’S LINKS:

BOSTON HERALD:

Pats don’t have same problems as Dolphins – Jeff Howe – Howe has an article on the fact that the Patriots don’t have the type of issue that the Dolphins are dealing with right now down in Miami, and that’s largely due to the difference in the culture here in Foxboro.

Gotta hand it to Ridley – Karen Guregian – Guregian has an article this morning on Stevan Ridley, who was back in his usual place behind Tom Brady and took the bulk of the snaps on Sunday against Pittsburgh.

Idle Kenbrell Thompkins stays positive – Karen Guregian – Guregian files her notebook tihs morning, which leads off with the fact that Thompkins remains upbeat despite being inactive Sunday.

BOSTON GLOBE:

Patriots release Austin Collie, sign two players – Michael Whitmer – Whitmer files his notebook this morning which leads off with a couple of transactions, including the release of Collie who apparently suffered a knee injury and didn’t return to Sunday’s contest.

Sticking with Stevan Ridley paid off for Patriots – Michael Whitmer – Whitmer has an article on Ridley, who he writes the coaching staff did the right thing by going right back to the running back following his fumble against Pittsburgh on Sunday.

ESPN BOSTON:

Catching up with former Patriots, Week 9 – Mike Reiss – Reiss looks at the latest happenings with some former Patriots, including former tight end Zach Sudfeld who had a strong performance with the Jets this week.

New WR LaQuan Williams hurt Pats in past - Mike Reiss – Reiss has an interesting note on newly acquired receiver LaQuan Williams, who made a big play on special teams against the Patriots during the AFC Championship Game two seasons ago.

Source: Patriots have six in for workouts – Field Yates - Yates has notes on six players who were brought in for workouts, including two punters, a kicker, and two long snappers.  They also worked out offensive tackle R.J. Mattes, who had previously worked out with the team.

NESN:

Duron Harmon Says There’s No Hazing in Patriots Locker Room, It’s ‘Great for Rookies’ – Doug Keyed – Kyed has comments from rookie Duron Harmon, who said yesterday that hazing isn’t an issue in the Patriots’ locker room.

THE REPUBLICAN:

Grading the Patriots vs. Steelers: Offense finally puts it together – Nick Underhill – Underhill has his grades for Sunday’s game in this entry.

WEEI:

All about respect: Why Miami morass would never happen in Foxboro – Christopher Price – Price has a good read this morning on how what’s going on in Miami would never happen here in the Patriots’ locker room.

WORCESTER TELEGRAM:

Ridley happy Patriots stuck with him after fumble – After getting pulled following his previous miscues, running back Stevan Ridley was glad the coaches stuck with him following his late game fumble.

Bob Kraft praises Worcester Tech High for work on bridge – Brian Lee – Lee has an article on Robert Kraft’s recent visit to Worcester Technical high school, who are also working with students from Worcester Polytechnic Institute are working on replacing a historic bridge that will be named in honor of his late wife, Myra.

METROWEST DAILY NEWS:

Patriots Notebook: Belichick says he has no plans to alter schedule – Glen Farley – Farley writes that despite seeing two NFL coaches go down with health issues over the last week, Bill Belichick doesn’t plan on changing the way he handles himself from a health standpoint.

ENTERPRISE NEWS:

Patriots’ ‘Scar’ talks to the press – Glen Farley – Farley has a partial transcription of assistant head coach and offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia’s conference with the media.

PORTLAND PRESS HERALD:

Respect keeps Patriots’ locker room a peaceful place – Mike Lowe – Lowe has an article on the fact New England’s locker room is pretty peaceful compared to Miami’s and the respect the players have for one another is a big reason why.

CBSSPORTS.COM:

Top NFL Rookie of Week 9: Patriots’ WR Aaron Dobson – Rob Rang – Rang writes that all appears well in Foxboro and while there’s plenty of credit to go around, he feels no other pass catcher has played a more critical role in the Patriots 7-2 performance than Dobson.

ATTLEBORO SUN CHRONICLE:

A YMCA Celebration - Christine Igo Freeman – Freeman has an article this morning on the local YMCA branch’s expansion in Foxboro, which celebrated its first five years on Tuesday.