Rookie Dobson's development on display

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It wasn’t long ago that New England Patriots' rookie wide receiver Aaron Dobson's role was more unpredictable than consistent.

He missed the season opener due to a hamstring injury, and the emergence of fellow rookie wideout Kenbrell Thompkins cut into Dobson’s opportunities.

But much has changed in recent weeks, as Dobson has evolved into the team’s primary “X” receiver, aligned on the perimeter of the formation and providing a vertical presence.

On Sunday, with Thompkins inactive as a healthy scratch, Dobson played a predominant role, logging 68 offensive snaps -- his second highest output in a game this season. The results were plentiful, as Dobson finished with a career-best 130 receiving yards and two scores.

“It feels good, just all the hard work, just having the outcome of a game like that, it’s big,” Dobson said following the game. “It feels good to have the confidence going into -- well, we’re going into the bye week -- but going into my next week, it just feels good.”

The second-round pick seemingly has developed a stronger rapport with quarterback Tom Brady, and though he has had struggles with drops during his rookie campaign, he said on Sunday that he has grown more confident as his role has expanded.

“I’m just learning, I’m just getting comfortable with the offense,” Dobson said. “I’ve still got a long way to go, but I’m just more comfortable than I was when I first got here.”

Perhaps no plays demonstrated that more than Dobson’s two touchdowns, as he corralled a back shoulder throw in the end zone to open the fourth-quarter scoring and followed that up with an 81-yard score late in the game to effectively put it out of reach.

That sort of vertical-stretching speed is what the Patriots had hoped to find in Dobson when they took him out of Marshall, and though it took some time to adjust to life in the NFL, Dobson said his hard work with Brady is adding up.

“All the work is paying off, all the extra things we do, just meetings, just extra stuff in particular is paying off,” he said.