The knee injury that hobbled Julian Edelman on Sunday might be more severe than initially suspected.
The New England Patriots wide receiver “did some damage to the tendon in his left knee” during last week’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and “was in some serious difficulty all week long and some pain,” according to a report Monday from NFL Media’s Mike Giardi.
Giardi reported Edelman received treatment “three times a day” ahead of Sunday’s 34-13 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) December 16, 2019
Edelman was deemed healthy enough to play against the Bengals after testing his knee in pregame, but he clearly was operating at less than 100 percent. The 33-year-old had his worst statistical game of the season, finishing with two catches on five targets for 9 yards while playing just 62 percent of offensive snaps — his second-lowest total this year — and displaying obvious signs of discomfort.
Dr. Jessica Flynn, who writes about injury-related matters for Boston Sports Journal, speculated Edelman’s ailment “is likely either tendonitis in the patellar tendon — which became a bigger problem last Sunday — or an acute partial tear of the tendon.”
“If the tendon is weakened by tendonitis or partial tearing, there is a risk of worsening of the tear or complete rupture of the tendon,” Flynn wrote Monday. “Unfortunately, we are unable to predict when or if that will happen, but it is often preceded by symptoms of tendonitis. A fully torn patellar tendon requires surgery, has a prolonged recovery, and a return to the previous level of play in the NFL is very, very difficult. On average, a full patellar tendon tear is much more difficult to recover from than an ACL tear.”
Edelman has been the driving force of a struggling Patriots passing game this season, leading all New England pass-catchers in receptions and receiving yards by a significant margin. He has 92 catches (fourth-most in the NFL) for 1,019 yards and a team-high six touchdowns through 14 games.
Running back James White is second on both lists with 65 catches for 588 yards, followed by wideout Phillip Dorsett with 28 for 347. Dorsett has not caught a pass in three weeks and wasn’t targeted against Cincinnati.
The Patriots clinched a playoff spot Sunday but have yet to secure an AFC East title or a first-round bye. They’ll close out their regular-season schedule with home games against the Buffalo Bills this Saturday and Miami Dolphins next Sunday.