The Patriots had high hopes for Ras-I Dowling. Enough confidence to select him with the 33rd pick in the 2011 draft. The move was a slight head-scratcher at the time (as we have grown accustom to), but nonetheless he was pegged to be a fixture in the secondary going forward.
Since then, Dowling has played in exactly two regular season games, recording a career total of ten tackles and zero interceptions. He has been plagued by hip injuries which landed him on season ending injured reserve two games into the 2011 season, and before the start of the 2012 regular season.
|Ras-I hasn't had much to cheer about during his time in New England|
Obviously, he has been a disappointment, at best, and we really have no idea what he is capable of. He had an impressive career at Virginia and was one of the better defensive backs in the ACC for the duration of his time there. But thus far his NFL career has remained on the sidelines.
With a pass defense that struggled immensely last season, the Patriots have revamped the unit by resigning Aqib Talib and Kyle Arrington. They also were fortunate that Alfonzo Dennard was able to avoid jail time for his assault on a police officer during his senior year at Nebraska. If all goes according to plan Devin McCourty will be able to play safety, where he has proven to be most adept. But the question remains: Can Ras-I stay healthy and contribute?
Based on his first two years with the team all indications point to no. But the coaching staff clearly has some faith in him as they have stuck with him throughout his struggles. Furthermore, Mike Reiss recently noted that Dowling had been a "surprising performer during OTAs."
I don't think a ton of stock in a couple good plays in OTAs, but it is at least a small step in the right direction for Dowling. With his history, it's a good sign that he is on the field in the first place.