New England Patriots’ star wide receiver Julian Edelman will reportedly miss the first four games of the 2018 season after being suspended for a PED violation, according to Adam Schefter.
Coming off of a torn ACL that sidelined him for the entirety of the 2017 season, Edelman will likely be spending four more games on the sideline, pending his appeal. While the Patriots were able to make it to the Super Bowl without Edelman last year, losing him to start this season could prove to be more of an issue than it was last year.
The Patriots will still have star tight end Rob Gronkowski despite the will he won’t he retire rumors that have been going around since the Patriots’ defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl 52 back in February and Tom Brady will still be under center come September, but things will be different to start the year for the Patriots. However, the Patriots did lose one player that could have made the loss of Edelman a bit easier, Danny Amendola who signed with the Miami Dolphins at the start of free agency back in March. Last year, Amendola was able to step in and fill Edelman’s role quite effectively last year coming out of the slot so it may be difficult to replace that productivity with some of the receivers on the Patriots’ roster. The guy coming out of the slot has typically been Brady’s go to receiver for pretty much his entire career, going back to the early days with Troy Brown, followed by Wes Welker. Losing both guys that filled that spot for the past several years puts the Patriots in a tough position.
The Patriots’ wide receiver corp is also full of newcomers, including former Bills’ receiver Jordan Matthews and former Raiders’ receiver/ kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson. In the draft the Patriots selected wide receiver Braxton Berrios in the sixth round, who fits the prototypical mold for the slot receiver that Brady has relied on in the past but there is no way of telling if he will be able to fill that role right away at this point in the offseason. There are also still questions surrounding Malcolm Mitchell who also missed the entire 2017 season with a knee injury and has yet to show up on the practice field during the Patriots’ mandatory camp this week.
However, despite these questions at the receiver position, they may be able to find a solution for the hole Edelman leaves behind at the running back position. In the past, running back James White has become an excellent receiver for the Patriots and has shown up in huge games, including his MVP caliber performance in Super Bowl 51, during which he caught a record 14 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown in the win over the Falcons (http://www.latimes.com/sports/nfl/la-sp-super-bowl-notebook-20170205-story.html). The Patriots also have receiver Chris Hogan returning, someone that has gained Brady’s trust over the past couple of years, so he could also try to fill the void left by Edelman.
It could be tough for the Patriots to replace Edelman’s productivity without Amendola, but between Hogan, Gronkowski and White, they should be able to manage for the first four games of the 2018 season. Having one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time should also help the Patriots get off to a normal start this season.
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