BOSTON (CBS) – 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Patriots play-by-play man Bob Socci called in to Toucher & Rich on Monday morning to analyze New England’s 55-31 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers and the emergence of rookie wide receiver Aaron Dobson.
With the win yesterday, the Patriots moved to 7-2 on the season and head into the bye week at a perfect time. Injuries are mounting up fast on the defensive side of the ball, a unit already without Jerod Mayo, Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly. And at one point yesterday the defense was without pass rusher Rob Ninkovich, safety Steve Gregory and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard.
Socci believes this bye week will help the team get back some key players not only on defense, but offense as well. The two key guys he mentioned were cornerback Aqib Talib and running back Shane Vereen.
“First of all, on defense, is the return hopefully of Aqib Talib. If he can give the Patriots anything that approximates what he did the first half of the season when he was healthy before his hip injury, obviously that is a huge asset that’s back in the secondary,” said Socci on injuries.
Socci added, “Shane Vereen started practicing last week and everybody is looking forward to his return in Week 11. If Vereen can come back, that gives the Patriots a very versatile guy they can use out of the backfield.”
Before yesterday, rookie wide receiver Aaron Dobson had yet to record over 70 receiving yards in a game. Against the Steelers, Dobson exploded for 130 yards and two touchdowns, including an 80-yarder from Tom Brady. The product out of Marshall is gaining the confidence of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and really impressed Socci yesterday with his ability to make plays.
“The last three halves Aaron Dobson has been terrific. The second half of last week he really made significant strides. Scott Zolak pointed out on the broadcast that he’s a guy who learns quickly and doesn’t seem to make the same mistake twice,” said Socci.
“Dobson and [Kenbrell] Thompkins seem to be very well liked and respected by Brady in particular. What we’ve seen from Dobson is he’s starting to catch up in terms of his learning process. His routes are more precise and he seems to be in sync now with Brady.”
Dobson’s statline yesterday and an impressive back shoulder catch sure seem to prove that.
Socci also discussed the decline in play from guard Logan Mankins, as well as Steve Gregory’s injured thumb and newcomer Issac Sopoaga.
Listen to the full interview below: