The Patriots released perpetually injured cornerback Ras-I Dowling Wednesday, cutting the former second-round pick after two-plus seasons.
Chosen 33d overall out of Virginia, Dowling made a quick impression on the coaching staff and started the first game of his rookie season against Miami in 2011. He started in Week 2 against the Chargers before suffering a hip injury that ultimately led to him being placed on injured reserve.
He was healthy for the start of the 2012 season, and played in seven games as a reserve. A thigh injury sent him to injured reserve at the end of October.
This season started with promise for Dowling as he was one of 10 players chosen as an offseason award winner by the strength and conditioning staff, getting a plum parking spot in the team lot for his attendance and improvement in the weight room.
In the early days of training camp, Dowling took snaps with the first-team defense, paired with Aqib Talib at corner, and several members of the staff wanted to see Dowling start over Alfonzo Dennard.
Alas, his ascension was once again short-lived. Dowling appeared to get injured early in the Aug. 1 practice and was not seen for a couple of weeks. He returned on a limited basis in the days leading up to the third exhibition game, against Detroit, but did not play.
Likely knowing Dowling still would not be able to play against the Giants on Thursday night, the Patriots parted ways with the 6-foot-1-inch, 210-pound cornerback.
But Dowling’s frequent visits to the training room were nothing new. He played in just five games his final season with the Cavaliers, in 2010, and a league source has said that Dowling could not get through his pro day before the draft without frequently pausing to stretch and tend to his legs.
To fill Dowling’s spot, the Patriots signed rookie linebacker Ja’Gared Davis, who was waived by the Texans. The 6-foot, 238-pound Davis played at SMU, collecting 301 tackles, 20 sacks, 4 interceptions, 8 forced fumbles, and 4 fumble recoveries in 53 career games. Davis scored five defense touchdowns during his days with the Mustangs.