FOXBORO, Mass. — Despite a struggling offense and litany of injuries, New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman still is on pace for his best statistical season.
Edelman has played all 14 games and caught 92 passes for 1,019 yards with six touchdowns. He’s on pace for career highs in catches, yards and touchdowns as he’s fought through knee, chest and shoulder injuries.
The knee and shoulder are the latest ailments bothering the wide receiver, and he caught just two passes on five targets for nine yards Sunday in the Patriots’ 34-13 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. That was the first game in which Edelman’s knee was listed on the injury report.
Edelman was asked two questions about injuries Thursday. Here were his responses:
“Not answering questions about the medical staff.”
“Not answering ‘physically’ questions.”
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady would discuss what Edelman is fighting through, however.
“He’s a pretty tough guy,” Brady said Thursday. “He wants to be out there competing and playing, and I think everyone has a lot of respect for him for that. He’s a tough guy. Good to have him out there.”
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick also was asked about how the team manages Edelman in practice and games given the receiver’s importance to the offense.
“Nobody’s 100 percent,” Belichick said. “Everybody’s played a lot of football, practiced a lot of football, and it’s been basically week-after-week other than the one bye week. So, that’s a cumulative thing and we do the best we can each week to manage all the things that you just talked about. Each individual player’s situation, what the team needs, what type of practice schedule, or what type of preparation we’re on, and how to get the most out of the team and the players, and to be ready to go on Sunday.
“So, it’s really an individual, daily answer to that question. What’s the player’s situation; what are we working on; what’s his role; what do we need him for; can he do it? I mean, if he can’t do it, then that answers that. If he can do some things but not others, then how important is it for him to do those things? Can we get him the next day, can we not get him the next day, so forth. So, we just take that on a day-by-day basis, and that’s really what the position coaches – one of the main things that they do is manage the players at their position.”
If the Patriots win Saturday against the Buffalo Bills, they’ll clinch the AFC East. If the Patriots win and the Kansas City Chiefs lose to the Chicago Bears, then they’ll also clinch a first-round bye. The Patriots play the Miami Dolphins in Week 17. If New England can at least clinch the AFC East on Saturday, then perhaps there would be a conversation of resting Edelman in the final game of the season to rest him up for the playoffs. The Patriots should be able to beat the Dolphins without Edelman.