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Patriots Rookie Receivers on New Ground

If Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins play the last two games, they could be reaching uncharted territory.

Jim Rogash

The Patriots really don't like to feature rookie weapons. The offense is complex and hard to learn and the Patriots can't afford to let players waste snaps on the field. It's why players like Randy Moss can step in and be a star from day one, while other veterans like Chad Johnson couldn't keep up- it's all about football intelligence.

So when the Patriots' hands were forced this season, two rookies had to pick up the slack. Sure, they weren't great, but they were able to help guide the Patriots to a more than reasonable record, given the scenario. Rookie wide receivers Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins had to perform and they did their best. Sure, they dropped roughly just as many passes as they caught, but they clearly improved as the season wore on and they've reached a point where it's obvious how essential they are to the offense.

If, and this is a major if, both Dobson and Thompkins can play the final two games and they perform at their season averages, they could be the best pair rookie receivers the Patriots have had. Ever.

Now to be clear, they ain't Terry Glenn, with his 90 reception, 1132 yard, and 6 TD rookie year. In fact, Glenn will probably still beat their combined numbers when it's all said and done.

But the Patriots haven't had two rookies play like Dobson and Thompkins have- and I'm including Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.

Hernandez and Gronk finished their respective rookie seasons with 563 and 546 yards, respectively, which is the greatest duo in Patriots rookie history. They also transformed the entire game of football and jacked up the value of tight ends around the league, but that's neither here nor there.

Dobson and Thompkins are on pace for 601 and 551 yards, and they're going to have to do it in 11 and 13 games. Even Gronk played all 16 and Hernandez played 14.

If the two rookies can pick up a combined 152 yards over the final two weeks, they'll surpass the tight ends. That seems extremely possible, if not likely.

Hopefully these two rookies are just getting started and they have as much of a league-wide impact as Gronk and Hernandez (we can dream, right? Right?).