Dowling has barely played in the last 2 seasons because of injury, dating back to his senior season in college at Virginia in 2010. Injury concerns are what dropped him to the 2nd round of the 2011 NFL Draft, where the Patriots took a chance on him. After getting next to nothing from him in 2011, the Patriots are hoping that Dowling can be their nickel cornerback behind Devin McCourty and Kyle Arrington.
However, it appears he’s still not 100%. According to the Boston Globe, Dowling is essentially “working his way back from the ground floor.” They also called him “stiff.” He’s seeing very few reps in OTAs still and the Patriots might not be counting on him for much this season. He’ll have competition for that nickel back job from Sterling Moore, Will Allen, and Alfonzo Dennard, a competition he will not win if he’s not healthy.