BOSTON (CBS) — It’s hard enough for any rookie wide receiver to catch up to speed on the complicated Patriots playbook, but when a nagging injury keeps that player off the field for nearly a full month.

That’s been the case for Aaron Dobson, whose foot injury halted his season on Nov. 24. At that point, he had 35 receptions for 492 yards and four touchdowns, and he had recorded a 130-yard, two-touchdown performance against Pittsburgh two weeks earlier.

But Dobson said Thursday that he is seeing the light at the end of tunnel for his recovery, and that he may be able to return to the field come Sunday.

“I’m just trying to just get out there, just trying to get back on the field,” Dobson, a limited participant at practice for the second straight day, said Thursday. “I’m just trying to do what I can in practice and trying to improve.”

Dobson, 22, said he’s taken “a lot of mental reps” so that he didn’t take any steps backward in terms of his progress while he was unable to play in games.

“I feel like it can affect you if you let it, but I just stayed in my playbook and tried to keep an edge. I didn’t want to fall off my playbook and lose track of my plays, so I just stayed in my playbook and tried to keep on track,” Dobson said.

The second-round pick out of Marshall admitted that his conditioning likely needs to improve after such a long layoff, but he expressed confidence that he’s kept himself as mentally sharp as possible.

“I’ve kind of been through the adversity before, so I know how to handle it,” Dobson said. “It’s a little frustrating, but I’m just trying to keep my head in the right place and not lose track of what I’ve been doing. So I’m just trying to stay on the right track.”

The Patriots play in Baltimore on Sunday afternoon. A win would clinch the AFC East for the Patriots, while a loss could force the team to win in Week 17 in order to make the postseason.


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