On Thursday night, Tom Brady’s two favorite weapons reportedly will share the field in a meaningful game for the first time since 2016.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman, coming off a four-game suspension, and tight end Rob Gronkowski, who’s dealing with an ankle injury, reportedly both are expected to play Week 5 against the Indianapolis Colts.
Edelman missed the entire 2017 season with a torn ACL. Gronkowski’s 2016 season ended early because of a back injury. The last time Edelman and Gronkowski played together in a non-preseason game was Nov. 27, 2016, a 22-17 win over the New York Jets. You’d have to go back to Nov. 13, 2016, for the last time both players caught passes from Brady in a game, since Gronkowski was held catchless on that Nov. 27 game.
Edelman had seven catches on nine targets for 99 yards in that Nov. 13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Gronkowski had three catches on six targets for 56 yards.
Though the Patriots won Super Bowl LI without Gronkowski, the Patriots’ passing attack was much less powerful when he and Edelman didn’t share the field. The Patriots averaged 8.9 yards per passing play when Brady, Edelman and Gronkowski were on the field together in 2016. Brady averaged just 7.1 yards per passing play when one or both of Edelman or Gronkowski wasn’t on the field.
The Patriots are 2-2 this season, but Brady hasn’t been himself out of the gate. He’s completing 64.4 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns and four interceptions, and he’s averaging just 6.8 yards per passing attempt. Brady hasn’t averaged less than 6.9 yards per passing attempt since 2006.
It wouldn’t be surprising if Brady immediately looks like himself again when Edelman and Gronkowski take the field together Thursday night against the Colts.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images