The New England Patriots beat the Los Angeles Chargers 45-0 on Sunday without Julian Edelman, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need their veteran wide receiver on the field. Prior to Sunday’s win, ESPN’s Adam Schefter shared details on Edelman’s return.
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According to a source, Schefter says the Patriots veteran is “still a couple of weeks away” from returning to the lineup. Edelman hasn’t played since the Patriots’ 33-6 blowout loss to the San Francisco 49ers on October 25.
At that point, the Patriots were sitting at 2-4 on the season with things looking a bit beyond bleak from a playoff standpoint. The team has gone 4-2 in the six games Edelman has missed, and are beginning to revive their chances of reaching the postseason for the 12th consecutive season.
Edelman was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list on November 30, which further complicated his return. This news from Schefter is the most definitive information we’ve heard on Edelman’s availability since he had a procedure on his knee.
Patriots Stepping Up in Edelman’s Absence
With Edelman out, Patriots wide receivers have seemingly taken turns stepping up in his stead. Initially, Jakobi Meyers found himself performing at a high level in victories over the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens. Next, it was Damiere Byrd shining in a loss to the Houston Texans. This week, N’Keal Harry had two receptions including his second TD grab of the season, and Gunner Olszewski had a huge game.
In addition to a whopping 145 return yards, including a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown, Olszewski also caught a 38-yarder for a score from Jarrett Stidham in the fourth quarter when the latter came in for Cam Newton at garbage time.
The Patriots also got a first down on a jet sweep to veteran wide receiver Donte Moncrief, who was signed to the 53-man roster prior to Sunday’s game. If and when Edelman can return this season, the Patriots receiving group suddenly doesn’t look quite as bad as it did earlier this season. It’s funny how things work. With some time to develop and to learn, perhaps without the pressure to be perfect under Tom Brady’s watchful eye, the young pass-catchers are coming along.
This is still not an elite group and they are without a true playmaker, but they have worked their way to be serviceable, and there is potential for just a little more if Edelman can return and perform at a reasonable level.
The Deal at QB
Stidham did come in for Newton, but despite what some are saying, I wouldn’t read much into it. The substitution was a pretty standard move in this kind of game. The Patriots were up 38-0 in the fourth quarter when Belichick pulled Newton.
It might have been seen as disrespectful to keep his starter on the field with the game already in hand.
Coaches will generally pull their most valuable guys at this time to protect them from injury. I don’t think this was much more than that, although Stidham would definitely get the call if Newton struggles over the last four games of this season.
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