Tom Brady is being forced to play with three rookie receivers right now, leading him to lean heavily on his most experienced veteran.
Julian Edelman, now in his fifth season with the Patriots, is finally having the breakout season many knew he was capable of since his rookie year. The 27-year old leads the Patriots and the NFL with 20 catches in just two games this season. That total is 10 more than the next highest (Danny Amendola with 10) on the roster, and only 17 less than Edelman’s career high.
Edelman’s emergence is no surprise, though, as the Patriots began the season without their top five pass catchers from 2012, including tight end Rob Gronkowski, who has yet to return from offseason surgery. Amendola was expected to be the No. 1 option, but a groin injury has slowed him down and even kept him from playing Thursday night against the Jets. With neither available and the rookie trio unable to make much of an impact, Brady looked Edelman’s way a career-high 18 times against the Jets, connecting with him on 13 of those attempts.
Through two games this season, Edelman leads the Patriots and ranks second in the league with 27 targets. Only the Texans’ Andre Johnson (29) has more through Week 2. For even more perspective, Edelman saw 32 total targets from Brady in nine games in 2012 and just 22 combined in the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
Edelman has made the most of his opportunities so far, proving he is capable of being a go-to option after all. He does have a history of injuries, though, which raises some concerns about the heavier workload.