The New England Patriots‘ unlikely quest for a playoff spot will have to push on without key members of the roster on Sunday.
Despite the hard work and treatment Patriots’ wide receiver Julian Edelman has been putting in to return to the lineup following a procedure on his knee and COVID-19, the 11-year veteran wasn’t activated off the injured reserve list on Saturday, per Jim McBride of the Boston Globe.
NEW: Julian Edelman will not be activated for Sunday's #Patriots game against the Dolphins as the receiver continues to ramp up his activities after a knee procedure, according to a league source. OLB Shilique Calhoun will be activated, however. https://t.co/lzbf0Te15q
— Jim McBride (@globejimmcbride) December 19, 2020
Unfortunately for the Patriots, Edelman isn’t the only key member of the roster the team will be without on Sunday.
Will Edelman Return This Season?
The Athletic’s Jeff Howe offered some insight that adds some perspective to this question and answer:
Julian Edelman has been working hard to get back on the field, but it was never really close this week. He wants to play again this season, which is a credit to him while the Pats are outside the playoffs, but it’s going to take significant improvement to return vs. BUF or NYJ.
— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) December 19, 2020
If I had to bet, I’d say the answer is yes.
However, how much there will be to play for, and how active he’ll be is still a major question. Quite honestly, it’s beginning to look as though the chances of Edelman playing at 100% anytime in 2020 seems unreasonable.
The 34-year-old hasn’t been on the field in almost 2 months (October 25 loss to the San Francisco 49ers). Beyond some potential physical conditioning issues, Edelman may also have to navigate rust having not had live reps for 9 or 10 weeks.
He has a lot to overcome, but his desire to come back during a season where his team’s postseason hopes are all but dashed is a credit to his competitiveness and leadership.
Damien Harris is Also Out
On the ground, the Patriots will also be without their No. 1 running back. Damien Harris, who has grabbed the lead back role with two hands, is out with an ankle injury.
RB Damien Harris and WR Donte Moncrief have been downgraded to out for #NEvsMIA.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) December 19, 2020
Harris began the season on injured reserve, but he has been the team’s most consistent weapon in the running game.
Without him, the unit that has been arguably the best throughout the season for the Patriots looks a bit weaker. The Patriots already lost Rex Burkhead for the season in the Week 11 loss to the Houston Texans, so Harris’ absence means Sony Michel will be re-inserted as the main option. The Patriots still have veteran James White and rookie J.J. Taylor (who seems like a likely choice to be active on Sunday).
They aren’t in dire straits at this point, but needless to say, another injury at running back would put them in even more of a bind.
Donte Moncrief’s Absence Impacts Special Teams
Also, wide receiver and kickoff returner Donte Moncrief has been ruled out as well. Moncrief has been a solid performer on special teams and he has provided some depth at wide receiver. It seems Taylor or perhaps wide receiver and former kickoff returner Gunner Olszewski would return to this role in Moncrief’s absence.
Moncrief was signed through the season after multiple standard elevations from the practice squad after making his presence and value felt on special teams. hopefully, he can make it back for the remainder of the regular season.
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