Buzzing on Yahoo Sports:

Expert Observations from New England Patriots OTAs Around the Web

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | The New England Patriots just capped off their fifth organized team activity of the season and the second open to media members. Here is a collection of observations from some of the best in the biz who had the opportunity to watch.

Field Yates of ESPNBoston points out that cornerback Ras-I Dowling looked sharp again in practice, breaking up a number of passes. He said the whole group of defensive backs made plays, actually.

He also confirmed that Marcus Cannon lined up primarily at right guard after spending most of his first two seasons at tackle.

Analysis: Dowling has been hampered by injuries since the Patriots used the No. 33 overall pick on the Virginia standout in the 2011 draft. The Pats must be thrilled to see him healthy and playing well--he just needs to stay healthy.

As for Cannon, I think he has more upside than incumbent right guard Dan Connolly, though Connolly may be the better player right now.

Andy Hart of thought Danny Amendola had another impressive outing, so much that he got some vocal praise from offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels during drills. Amendola also made a diving catch on a deep ball at one point during practice.

He also notes that newcomer Leon Washington has shown impressive burst both as a returner and running back.

Analysis: Replacing Wes Welker is a tall task, but Amendola seems up for the challenge and seems to have already made a good impression with the coaching staff.

Washington was the second-best kickoff returner in the NFL last season. The Patriots ranked near the bottom of the league in kick returns, so he should help.

Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald says that rookie wide receiver Aaron Dobson made a number of athletic catches, something the has become a trend so far in OTAs, although he had a few drops as well.

He also reminded us that defensive tackle Tommy Kelly is gigantic.

Analysis: At 6'3'' with good speed, Dobson has all the makings a prolific outside receiver. It sounds like he just needs to put it all together and be a bit more consistent. But that is what practice is for, after all.

Nick Underhill of thought Jamie Collins looked good, both in coverage and rushing the passer from the outside linebacker spot.

He also noticed Kelly lining up a lot at defensive end rather than at defensive tackle.

Analysis: One thing that sticks out about this Patriots defense is how many versatile players they have. Guys like Collins and Rob Ninkovich can play defensive end or linebacker, while other guys like Kelly and Vince Wilfork can line up anywhere up front. The best way to defend is to confuse, and the Patriots seem as equipped to do that as they have in years.

Tom E. Curran and Mary Paoletti of saw backup quarterback Ryan Mallet throw a laser to Kamar Aiken--one of the best offensive plays of the day. They also noted that his delivery has been fine tuned a bit.

They also saw Donald Jones make quite a catch in the end zone.

Analysis: This a big year for Mallet. This is his third season and teams around the league who may be interested in him via trade or eventually in free agency will want to see a quarterback who has made a lot of improvement as Tom Brady's understudy.

As for Jones, I think he's an athletic player with some ability. He may turn out to be a solid signing down the road.

All NFL rankings courtesy of

James DiMaio is a Yahoo! contributor who also covers the NFL and the New England Patriots for Bleacher Report.

You can follow James on Twitter @JamesDiMaio.

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Football
View Comments (4)