Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports

Sunday 7: Julian Edelman situation bears watching

Ryan Hannable
August 05, 2018 - 6:00 am

1. Everyone knows Julian Edelman will be out for the first four games because of his four-game suspension for using a performance-enhancing substance. He will return for Week 5 and many are assuming he will be the same receiver as he was before he suffered a torn ACL last preseason. But, how do we know for sure?  “I feel like I got to get my legs under me a lot more,” Edelman said after Friday’s practice. “I don’t have my camp legs, I don’t have football legs and it’s evident out there. You get tired, you create bad habits, you don’t run your routes right and you get yelled at in meetings for it. I’m expecting to do that because I got to pick it up.” Being 32 years old and coming back from major surgery makes it no guarantee he will instantly be the same receiver he once was, and it seems like Edelman himself knows that. It’s really hard to just assume he will pick up where he left off in 2016, which adds more questions to the Patriots’ situation at receiver. While he may come back and immediately contribute, it’s not certain. This could be part of the reason the team signed Eric Decker this week. Certainly he was added more so due to the release of Jordan Matthews, and Kenny Britt and Malcolm Mitchell not fully participating in practices yet, but Edelman’s situation likely was considered as well. Just because he’s back on the field and fully participating, it doesn’t mean it could take him a bit to get back to what he once was. The team should make sure it has an insurance policy in place (potentially Decker) and not count on Edelman to save the day come Week 5. 

2. Speaking of Decker, it’s hard to imagine him not making the 53-man roster. According to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, Decker signed a one-year deal worth $1.9 million with a chance to make up to $2.5 million based on receptions. While the contract itself doesn’t mean he will make the roster, just look at who he’s competing with. Edelman is out the first four weeks and then Britt and Mitchell haven’t participated in a full practice yet. This leaves Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson as the only real locks. Even if Britt or Mitchell make the team, Decker is a much better option than Riley McCarron or Braxton Berrios out of the slot. The Patriots signed Decker with the intention of him making the 53-man roster. Just how much of a contributor he will be remains to be seen, but he will be given the chance.

3. It’s been hard not to notice how low-key the training camp sessions have been compared to years past. There are a number of potential reasons why ranging all the way to there being no joint practices to Bill Belichick wanting to change the culture a bit. Another theory is the weather, as it has been very hot and humid through the first 10 days of training camp. It likely is a combination of a lot of things, but there’s no question the start to camp has had a different feel than in the past. For example, the first team offense and defense essentially had off-days Friday and Saturday, not doing much at all. This isn’t to say the team hasn’t been focused by any means, just the workload has been different.

4. When it comes to the biggest surprise from Patriots camp so far, it has to be offensive tackle Trent Brown. He came over from the 49ers with a few concerns, but he’s been outstanding thus far. He’s dominated the 1-on-1 linemen drills and has showed his athleticism in 11-on-11s getting out in front to block. For as much as the left tackle spot was a question mark going into training camp, Brown has done everything he can to put those concerns to bed.

5. One player who hasn’t looked right so far has been defensive end Trey Flowers. He’s struggled a bit in linemen 1-on-1 drills, getting beat much more than we’ve ever seen from him. Perhaps it could be injury-related as he left Friday’s practice early and took it easy on Saturday. It’s not much cause for concern, at least at this point, but it is worth noting he hasn’t looked like the player we’re used to seeing. Speaking after practice Saturday he said even though the team is off the next few days he will be making sure he’s at the facility getting extra work in. “You definitely want to come in and you’ve got to be a pro about it,” he said to reporters. “You’ve got to take care of yourself and help your IQ of the game. Watch film and do things like that.”

6. The Patriots once again went all out for Tom Brady’s 41st birthday on Friday with a giant cake, balloon fixture and a giant card for fans to sign. It was nothing compared to his 40th birthday when there was a live goat on hand, but it’s worth wondering, does he enjoy the attention? “I don’t know, I don’t think – he’s really kind of a dorky, like shy guy so I don’t know if he likes it or if he doesn’t,” Edelman said. “But, you know when you’re singing Happy Birthday to Brady you know it’s football season.” Our bet is he really doesn’t, but when he’s as popular as he is, it’s hard for the organization not to do anything for him.

7. The first preseason game of the season will be Thursday as the Patriots will host the Redskins. With no joint practices, expect these games to feature the starters getting much more playing time than in the past. When the team had joint practices, the starters saw a ton of work over those few days going against the opposition and then didn’t play much at all in the games. It’s hard to say exactly how much Brady will play Thursday, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him play at least a quarter.

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