FOXBORO, Mass. — Over the final two weeks of the NFL preseason, Julian Edelman plans to work as hard as possible on his conditioning, which he admitted was not up to snuff in training camp.
And since he won’t be suiting up for the New England Patriots for the first month of the regular season, the veteran wide receiver also wants to do all he can to help those who will be filling in while he serves his four-game performance-enhancing drug suspension.
“I hope to get my conditioning better, just keeping the volume up,” Edelman said Wednesday ahead of Friday’s preseason matchup between the Patriots and Carolina Panthers. “I hope I can go out and contribute in other ways. Obviously, I won’t be here for the first four (games). Anything I can do to help the guys that are going to step in and be able to let them know what they need to know and little things, especially guys that are not as experienced. …
“(I can help with) looks and verbiage. I’ve been in the system a little while, so if a guy is having difficulty with a read or an option or this or that, that’s what I’m here for, I guess.”
With Edelman, who missed all of last season with a torn ACL, set to be unavailable until October, wide receiver is a real area of concern for the Patriots as Week 1 approaches. Kenny Britt on Wednesday became the third New England wideout to be released this summer — joining Jordan Matthews and Malcolm Mitchell — and of those who remain, only Chris Hogan has a history of production in the Patriots’ system.
Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson and special teamer Matthew Slater look like roster locks, leaving Eric Decker, Riley McCarron, Braxton Berrios, Devin Lucien and Paul Turner battling for the final few roster spots at the position.
Speaking before news of Britt’s release broke, Edelman said he has confidence in that group to hold down the fort until he returns.
“We’ve got a lot of guys making a lot of plays, a lot of guys working hard and a lot of guys improving,” Edelman said. “And honestly, that’s all you can ask for. We’ve got a group in there that’s very capable — a lot of explosion, a lot of quickness, a lot of experience. I’m not a talent evaluator, not a coach, not a GM — you’d have to ask those guys about that — but I’m excited for (the other receivers) for their opportunity, and I’m definitely confident in them.”
Tight end Rob Gronkowski and running back James White also should see plenty of targets from quarterback Tom Brady, who earned NFL MVP honors last season at age 40.
After a quiet preseason opener, Edelman played 31 offensive snaps last Thursday against the Philadelphia Eagles, catching four passes on five targets for 26 yards.
Thumbnail photo via Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports Images