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PATRIOTS NOTEBOOK

Aaron Dobson still playing catch-up

Aaron Dobson returned to the practice field last week. AP Photo/Elise Amendola

Elise Amendola/AP

Aaron Dobson returned to the practice field last week.

FOXBOROUGH — Second-year receiver Aaron Dobson was on the field last week for the first time since undergoing offseason foot surgery.

The Patriots’ second second-round pick in 2013, the 6-foot-3-inch Dobson has missed valuable time; Bill Belichick has often said that the months between a player’s first and second seasons are crucial to his development.

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But Dobson believes that he has kept up well from a mental aspect, and now only has to catch up from a physical standpoint.

“I feel like mentally I stayed in there,” Dobson said Wednesday. “Like OTAs, all the beginning of training camp, when I wasn’t practicing, I stayed in there with mental reps, just doing everything I can to stay ahead of the game.”

He still has conditioning work to do to get his wind up, he said, but overall he’s doing well.

“It feels good just to be out there, just practicing and running around a little bit, catching the ball,” he said. “This week, I felt good. I just have to keep progressing.”

His quarterback, however, seems to think Dobson might be getting ahead of himself believing that the mental reps are equal to on-field reps.

“He’s a really smart player, but for all of us, you have to go out there and do it and get the reps in,” said Tom Brady. “I’ve had, I don’t know what practice was today, but this practice including the spring was 30, 35 practices, and it’s valuable for me, so it’s valuable for everybody.

“You’ve got to go out there and do it, you’ve got to do it under competitive situations and see where you’re at and just keep going after it and improving and proving so when you get to the game, it’s just instinctual.

“You just don’t want to go into the game with uncertainties of how you’re going to react or how you’re going to play, so the more practice you get, the better you’re going to get.

“Everyone’s in different situations, so . . . it’s the preseason, guys are working in at different times, they’re dealing with different injuries over the course of the preseason. Whenever they’re ready to go, they’re ready to go, so they have to try to come in and do the best they can with limited amounts of time.”

Dobson said game reps are a big part of getting his timing back, though it is unlikely he will play Friday night against Carolina. Practice will have to do for now.

“It’s just going to take repetition,” he said.

Full of compliments

James Develin definitely has a friend in Brady.

Develin, the former defensive lineman at Brown who switched to fullback and played in both the Arena League and the now-defunct United Football League before getting on the Bengals practice squad in 2010, made the Patriots’ 53-man roster last year out of training camp and played in all 16 games.

The 26-year-old Develin, listed at 6-3, 255 pounds, finished the season with four carries and four catches, and if his use in training camp is any indication, he is in line to post bigger numbers this year.

“He’s done such a great job,” said Brady. “He is such a selfless player, great teammate. I don’t think there’s a better fullback in the league, so I’m so happy he’s on our team and what he’s been able to accomplish for our team has been awesome, because he brings so much in terms of his toughness and attitude.

“It’s that one position on offense that can really bring a lot of toughness; you get it out of that fullback position. He does whatever the team asks him to do. I can’t say enough good things about him, because I think so highly of him.”

Vollmer still out

Tackle Sebastian Vollmer was not at practice, the third straight day he has missed. A league source said he has a foot injury but it is not considered serious. Vollmer did play against the Eagles last week, but there was no announcement during the game that he had been injured. Vollmer, now in his sixth year, missed eight games last year after suffering a broken leg . . . Attendance at practice was the same as Tuesday. In addition to Vollmer, defensive tackles Sealver Siliga and Chris Jones, tight end D.J. Williams, running back Tyler Gaffney, linebacker Cameron Gordon, and offensive lineman Chris Martin were not present. Players were in shells (soft pads) and shorts/sweats.

Shalise Manza Young can be reached at syoung@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.
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