Josh Boyce breaks through for Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Rookie receiver Josh Boyce, whom the Patriots selected in the fourth round of the NFL draft right before the Dolphins were prepared to do so, is coming off his most productive week with the team.

The story of the Dolphins' interest is timely to revisit as the Patriots prepare for a trip to Miami, a game which comes after Boyce received his most extensive playing time (72 snaps) in a fill-in role for injured rookies Aaron Dobson (foot) and Kenbrell Thompkins (hip).

Boyce, who had played a total of 71 snaps all season up to last Sunday's 27-26 win over the Browns, finished with three catches for 49 yards while also serving as the team's primary kickoff returner. He also was named one of the team's practice players of the week, an honor given to those who are deemed to have best prepared the Patriots in the days leading up to a win (he probably played the role of Josh Gordon).

"Josh is a smart guy who works hard," coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday when asked what traits/skills Boyce has going for him other than his notable speed. "He definitely has some position flexibility -- he knows a lot of assignments, different positions -- he's a versatile guy. He's always ready to go. On the scout team, he plays the other team's best receiver, that type of thing, and he gets a lot of balls in some of those weeks in practice. You can see him getting better on the practice field, which has eventually here led to some playing time -- in the kicking game first, then offensively. He's been able to, to a certain degree, take the ball and run with it.

"There's a long way to go here, but it's certainly progress and positive results that have shown up now for a couple weeks."