Belichick: Dowling progressing, had 'good spring'


Belichick: Dowling progressing, had 'good spring'

FOXBORO -- As soon as Patriots training camp started a slide labeled "Ras-I Dowling" was placed under the microscope. The corner is like a glittering specimen of unrealized potential and all are waiting to see how he does.

There wasn't much opportunity last season.

Dowling, the first pick of 2011's second round, positioned himself after last year's camp to start the regular season opener. But a torn hip tendon in Week 2's game against the Chargers relegated the rookie to injured reserve. Dowling practiced, he just never saw game action again.

Then came the offseason surgery, the recovery. He's working his way back.

"It's good to see him out there," Bill Belichick said the second morning of training camp. "We thought Ras-I made some progress last year when he was on the field. He wasn't able to finish the season, but that's really the key for any player is to be able to be out there, get the instruction, practice, watch it on film, correct it and do it again. Game reps. Not only to gain confidence, but the technique and execution to do it against high level competition. That's key for him...."

The 6-2, 198-pound cornerback will look to win Kyle Arrington's spot with his blazing speed. On the first day of camp he subbed in, bumping Arrington into the nickel spot. It won't be an easy battle.

He's also fighting his own history.

Dowling's health has long been a concern. Injuries limited him to just five games his senior season at Virginia. He missed the first three Patriots preseason games with a hamstring injury. All things considered, it's difficult to not have doubts.

Unless you're Belichick. The coach said Dowling had a "good spring" and was fully capable during all practices.

"He was able to do some of that last year and make some progress and I think he'll be able to do a lot more this year."

EX-PATS PODCAST: Why does it seem Patriots secondary is playing better without Gilmore?


EX-PATS PODCAST: Why does it seem Patriots secondary is playing better without Gilmore?

On this episode of The Ex-Pats Podcast...

0:10 - Mike Giardi and Dan Koppen give their takeaways from the Patriots win over the Falcons including the defense coming up strong against Atlanta but New England still taking too many penalties.

2:00 - Why it felt like this game meant more to the Patriots, their sense of excitement after the win, and building chemistry off a good victory.

6:20 - Falcons losing their identity without Kyle Shanahan as offensive coordinator and their bad play calling and decisions on 4th downs.

10:00 -  A discussion about Matt Ryan not making the throws he needed against the Patriots and if he has falling off the MVP caliber-type player he was last season.

14:00 - How and why the Patriots secondary seems to be playing better without Stephon Gilmore and why Malcolm Butler has been able to turn up his play as of late.

Mother Nature gets between Belichick and his Patriots-Falcons film study


Mother Nature gets between Belichick and his Patriots-Falcons film study

If your team makes a goal-line stop in the fourth quarter, but you can't see it on the All-22 tape, did it even happen? 

Bill Belichick said the fog that hovered above the Gillette Stadium turf on Sunday night didn't impact the play on the field, but it did make its imprint on the game in other ways. First of all, spotters and coaches up at the press level had some difficulty relaying information to coaches on the sidelines. Video on the hand-held tablets for sideline use -- as well as the old-school still-frame pictures Belichick prefers -- was also obstructed. 

Then on Monday, as coaches tried to digest the film, the fog butted in on the process again. 

"It affected us a lot this morning because it’s hard to see the game," Belichick said during a conference call. "The fourth quarter is – I don’t know – pretty close to a white-out on the sideline film. The sideline cameras are at the top of the stadium, so that’s a tough shot.

"The end zone cameras are a little bit lower and they get a little tighter shot, so the picture is a little bit clearer. But, on that shot, a lot of times you’re not able to see all the guys on the perimeter. It’s kind of an in-line shot.

"Yeah, the first half, start of the third quarter, it’s all right. As they get into the middle of the third quarter and on, for those of us with aging eyes, it’s a little strained to see it, and then there’s a point where you can’t really see it at all, especially from the sideline. So, yeah, it affected us."

Belichick re-iterated that the fog didn't do much to the product on the field (other than maybe making life difficult for kick and punt-returners), refuting Julio Jones' claim from late Sunday night. When it came to digesting the film, though, that was another story.

"It was more, I’d say, just tougher for, whether it be our video camera or the fans that were sitting in the upper deck. It’s just there was too much interference there," Belichick said. "It was probably hard to see the game. I know when we tried to look at the pictures in between series – you know, I don’t look at the tablets, so I won’t get into that – but the pictures, it was kind of the same thing. It was hard to really be able to make out exactly what you were seeing."