James Walker, who covers the AFC East for ESPN.com, attended the Patriots' minicamp practice on Wednesday. He files a blog entry on his "likes" and "dislikes" from both the Patriots' camp and his visit to Jets' camp, and it's always nice to welcome a different perspective here.
Count Walker in the camp that views second-year cornerback Ras-I Dowling as struggling. Walker also focuses on backup quarterback Brian Hoyer on that side of the ledger, while putting Tom Brady in his "likes" category.
To read Walker's blog entry, CLICK HERE.
Specific to Dowling, a player that Patriots followers seem to have an added interest in following, he is coming off hip surgery. Similar to how Brandon Lloyd offers a different dimension to the Patriots' receiving corps, Dowling does the same at cornerback. His size (6-1, 198) stands out.
In a non-contact camp, when big corners can't initiate at the line of scrimmage, they are naturally going to be at a disadvantage, so it makes sense to focus on movements, technique and fundamentals as the best gauge for how Dowling is faring. Keeping in mind that it's a challenge for media members who are hundreds of yards away to decisively judge, this observer has seen Dowling get beaten at times, but also has seen him play a Brandon Lloyd out-and-up move well, while also running stride for stride with Lloyd down the left sideline.
In the words of Bill Belichick, "some good, some plays I'm sure he'd like to have back." At this point, the performance wouldn't be any reason for concern from this perspective.