Updated Bust Watch: Dowling, Cunningham

In July, the AFC East blog highlighted several players who needed successful seasons to avoid the “bust” label.

As we approach the midpoint of the season, let’s take a look at two New England Patriots.

Updated Bust Watch: CB Ras-I Dowling, DE Jermaine Cunningham

Picks: Dowling, 2011 second round; Cunningham, 2010 second round

Analysis: Many Patriots fans thought it was too soon to put Dowling on the “Bust Watch." He had just one injury-plagued year and was put on injured reserve. However, the same thing happened this year where Dowling returned slowly then ended up on injured reserve for a second straight season. Dowling may get one more chance in 2013, but he’s probably a bust at this point. Meanwhile, Cunningham has been a nice story. He showed improvement in the spring and summer and it has translated into the regular season. As a backup, Cunningham has 15 tackles, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble and fumble recovery. It’s not Pro Bowl production but it’s certainly enough to begin shedding the “bust” label.