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How much will Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman play vs. Colts?

Ryan Hannable
October 04, 2018 - 11:09 am

For the first time since Week 12 of the 2016 season, Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman will be on the field together for a meaningful game.

Gronkowski missed the end of the 2016 season, while Edelman missed the entire 2017 season as well as the first four games of this year, but he will return to the field Thursday night against the Colts.

While it will be nice to see the two best options on the passing game for Tom Brady on the field together, don't expect a huge night for both players.

Let's start with Gronkowski.

The Patriots tight end is expected to be active despite an ankle injury which forced him to leave last Sunday's game against the Dolphins. After missing the only practice of the week Tuesday, it's clear the injury is still impacting him, so expect the team to be cautious with him, especially with one of the bigger games of the season coming up in 10 days when the Chiefs come to town.

The Colts are extremely banged up -- already ruling seven players out -- and just aren't very good to begin with as they enter the game 1-3. If the Patriots can build a big lead, expect Gronkowski to come out of the game just like he did on Sunday.

As for Edelman, keep in mind how much time he's missed. 

While he worked out extremely hard during the month he was away, don't expect him to be able to jump right back in and play 100 percent of the snaps -- as much as he would like. Bill Belichick tempered expectations with him when speaking this week, noting how far behind he is and how he needs to catch up.

From this viewpoint, the receiver will play around 60 percent of the snaps, but remain involved in the passing game. It won't be like Josh Gordon last week when he was only targeted twice on 18 snaps. Edelman is Brady's favorite receiver and it's likely he will be his No. 1 option on some plays. Just don't expect a seven-catch, 120-yard and a touchdown performance out of the 32-year-old. Not only did he miss the last month, he's also coming back from an ACL tear.

Bottom line, while it's great to have Gronkowski and Edelman on the field at the same time, Thursday won't give a true indication of what to expect for the rest of the season.

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