Julian Edelman said over the weekend he was “extremely excited” for the start of New England Patriots training camp, but camp will begin a bit later for the veteran wide receiver.
Edelman is dealing with a thumb injury that is expected to sideline him for roughly three weeks, according to a report Monday from ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Field Yates. The Patriots are scheduled to hold their first camp practice Thursday morning at Gillette Stadium.
If that three-week timetable holds, Edelman likely will be unavailable for joint practices with the Detroit Lions (Aug. 5 to 7) ahead of the teams’ preseason opener but could return in time for the Patriots’ sessions with the Tennessee Titans (Aug. 14 and 15).
The absence of the Super Bowl LIII MVP — one of New England’s few roster locks at wide receiver — will free up additional reps for the team’s other wideouts, many of whom have very limited experience in the Patriots’ system.
Headlining this list is rookie N’Keal Harry, the first receiver drafted by the Patriots in the first round (32nd overall) during the Bill Belichick era. Harry flashed early in spring practice but displayed some growing pains in minicamp as he battled with All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore. The former Arizona State star likely will see plenty of first-team action while Edelman recovers.
Rounding out the current receiving corps are returning contributor Phillip Dorsett, 2018 sixth-round pick Braxton Berrios, veterans Maurice Harris and Dontrelle Inman, 2018 practice squadder Damoun Patterson and undrafted rookies Jakobi Meyers, Ryan Davis and Gunner Olszewski. Of that group, only Dorsett has played in a regular-season game for the Patriots. Berrios, Patterson, Meyers, Davis and Olszewski have yet to make their NFL debuts.
Harris, who came over from the Washington Redskins in free agency, was a surprise standout in spring practice, and Berrios was in the mix, as well, following a lost rookie season. Inman, meanwhile, failed to make an impact after serving as one of the Indianapolis Colts’ top weapons late last season.
In addition to Edelman, who caught 74 passes for 850 yards and six touchdowns in a suspension-shortened 2018 season, the Patriots also will be without leading rusher Sony Michel (knee) to begin training camp. Michel was one of several Patriots players placed on the physically unable to perform list Sunday, along with defensive end Deatrich Wise, safety Nate Ebner, offensive tackle Cole Croston, cornerback Ken Webster and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas.