What can New England Patriots fans expect from Julian Edelman in his return from suspension?
Bill Belichick isn’t saying.
Speaking Tuesday on a conference call with reporters, Belichick tempered expectations for the veteran wide receiver, who returned to the team Monday and is expected to make his regular-season debut Thursday night against the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium.
“It’s good to have him back, and we’ll see,” Belichick said. “We didn’t practice (Monday), so we’ll get moving on some things (Tuesday) in terms of a game plan and trying to get as far along on Indianapolis as we can. It’s obviously going to be a cram for us, so we’ll see how it all comes together. I don’t know. He hasn’t been here in a month, and it’s a short week. We’ll just have to see how things work out.”
During his four-game suspension, Edelman was not permitted to practice with the team, visit the Patriots’ facility or even discuss football-related matters with teammates or coaches. And since the Patriots play on Thursday rather than Sunday or Monday this week, he’ll have just a few days to reacclimate himself before hitting the field for his first non-preseason game since Super Bowl LI. (Edelman also missed all of last season with a torn ACL.)
Quarterback Tom Brady, though, isn’t worried about having to get Edelman back up to speed.
“I think we’ve played so much football together,” Brady said Monday. “I really have no doubt where he’s going to be at, what he’s capable of. He’s been a great player for our team. I think everyone’s excited to have him back, and anytime you add great players, it’s going to help what we’re doing. We all welcome him back, and he’s excited, ready to go, and hopefully he can go out and play great. Hopefully, we can all go play great. We’re going to need it.”
Edelman, 32, was the Patriots’ leading receiver during the 2016 season, catching 98 passes for 1,106 yards with three touchdowns. His return should revitalize a New England receiving corps that’s struggled so far this season.
Thumbnail photo via Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports Images