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Getting a feel for rookie CB Ryan

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When speaking about the tight end position earlier in training camp, Bill Belichick made reference to the classic baseball story of Wally Pipp and Lou Gehrig.

When opportunity unexpectedly presents itself, it’s up to the player to make it count. Gehrig did and his story is legendary.

It obviously isn’t at the same level – not even close, in fact – but we’ve seen a similar dynamic unfolding in recent days for Patriots cornerbacks.

On Thursday, projected No. 4 corner Ras-I Dowling didn’t finish practice. Last year’s No. 2, Alfonzo Dennard, also didn’t seem to be taking his regular repetitions.

The trickle-down effect thrust third-round draft choice Logan Ryan into a spot where he was receiving quality reps. In the nickel defense, Ryan was seen playing in the slot, with Aqib Talib and Kyle Arrington on the outside.

A few thoughts on Ryan:

At 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, he has good size for the position. That specifically shows up with run force, which the Patriots value as much as anyone with cornerbacks.

Ryan doesn’t have the same fluid movements as Talib (few do), but his style of play has some similarities to Arrington (5-10, 190) from this viewpoint. He can be physical at the line of scrimmage and looks to have flexibility to line up inside and outside. Some competitive ball skills as well.

On top of that, one area where Ryan excels is mentally. In speaking with cornerbacks coach Josh Boyer earlier in the week, Ryan’s ability to grasp complex concepts was noted.

Ryan, who has been roommates with former Rutgers teammate Duron Harmon in training camp, answered questions from reporters on Thursday.

“I feel like I’m better than I was on Day 1,” Ryan said when asked about his progress. “I think I’m getting better each and every day, so ‘so far, so good.’”

In the perfect Patriots world, Ryan would project as the No. 5 cornerback, given the luxury of time to develop. But with Dennard’s legal situation potentially affecting his availability, and Dowling managing a health-related issue on Thursday, it was a reminder that things can change fast for a player like Ryan.