Patriots’ injury bug continues with Edelman on IR
Rob Gronkowski broke his forearm. Chandler Jones injured his
ankle. Logan Mankins hurt his hip, calf and ankle.
Now Julian Edelman is out for the season. The dangerous punt
returner and elusive wide receiver was placed on injured reserve
with a foot injury by the New England Patriots on Tuesday.
The ailments keep piling up.
But so do the wins.
The Patriots’ sixth straight victory last Sunday clinched first
place in the AFC East. But things don’t get easier. That streak, in
fact, will be on the line Monday against the Houston Texans
Like all teams, the Patriots (9-3) try to build depth. So, when
a starter is sidelined, they can rely on his backup to fill in
effectively, even if it means playing a different role. That
happened at tight end when Gronkowski, the Patriots’ outstanding
pass catcher and blocker, missed the past two games with a broken
left forearm- with the likelihood he’ll miss at least two more.
The good news in that tight-end equation is that Aaron
Hernandez, their other star tight end, is back after missing six
games with a sprained right ankle.
One up, one down.
”Every player has some different strengths and so forth and you
try to play to those guys’ strengths,” quarterback Tom Brady said.
”I don’t think you go into it and you say . there’s only one Rob
Gronkowski; there’s only one of those in the league.
”The guys that are going to be in there playing that role,
(they) have to go in there and do the best they can do. That’s why
they’re on the team and that’s why we have 53 guys on the roster,
so everybody can contribute at one point or another.”
Trevor Scott did that at defensive end with two sacks in
Sunday’s 23-16 win at Miami. Scott stepped in when Jones, a rookie
who is tied for the team lead with six sacks, missed his second
game, and his primary backup, Jermaine Cunningham, began a
four-game suspension for violating the NFL policy on
On the other side of the ball, Donald Thomas has filled in at
left guard for Mankins, who was sidelined five of the past six
And now someone – or several players – will try to fill in for
Edelman. He scored five touchdowns this season – three on
receptions, one on a punt return and one on a fumble recovery. But
he left Sun Life Stadium Sunday on crutches, wearing a walking boot
on his right foot. Edelman may have broken his foot, but the
Patriots provided no details of the injury.
Coach Bill Belichick did go out of his way, though, to praise
”Julian’s had an opportunity to contribute offensively,” he
said. ”In the kicking game, he’s done a good job for us as a
returner. He’s also done a good job for us on kickoff coverage.
Offensively, he’s done a good job with the ball in his hands on
screens and routes where he can run it, reverses and screens and
things like that.”
The Patriots re-signed Donte’ Stallworth on Tuesday to help out
at wide receiver. They had released him Aug. 27, after signing him
as a free agent following one season with the Redskins. He spent
2007 with the Patriots, one of his six teams, and made 46 catches
for 697 yards and three touchdowns that year.
”A lot of cuts in training camp are hard,” Belichick said,
referring to Stallworth. ”Guys come in, they work hard, they’re
competitive on our team, (and) they’re competitive against
The loss of Edelman could mean more work for Wes Welker as a
punt returner. That might increase the chances of injury for the
NFL’s leading receiver, although he filled in when Edelman missed
three games this season with a hand injury.
Along the offensive line, this is nothing new. Backups have
played key roles all season, protecting Brady and opening holes for
running back Stevan Ridley. Right guard Dan Connolly missed the
59-24 win over Indianapolis Nov. 18 and was replaced by Nick
McDonald. Right tackle Sebastian Vollmer sat out the 49-19 victory
over the Jets Nov. 22 as Marcus Cannon took the start. And Thomas
has stepped in for Mankins admirably, as mentioned.
”They’ve all done well,” Belichick said. ”They’re all young
guys in the relatively early part of their careers that have come
in here in a variety of circumstances.”
The health of the Patriots is improving in at least one area –
the secondary. Safeties Steve Gregory and Patrick Chung are back
after missing four games each, although Devin McCourty has moved
from cornerback into Chung’s starting spot.
After Gronkowski was hurt, Belichick was asked about the
expectations for the backup tight ends.
”Same as for every player on the roster,” he said, ”prepare,
practice and be ready to go.”
So far, so good.
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