Among several big names in the NFL that went down to injury in week 10 was Patriots outstanding wide receiver Julian Edelman. Edelman struggled off the field at the end of the first quarter against the New York Giants where he proceeded to slam his helmet to the ground in frustration with an apparent foot injury. Upon further examination, Edelman was ruled out for the remainder of the game. He underwent surgery on Monday to repair a broken bone in his left foot. With Edelman down for 6-8 weeks, the undefeated Patriots will have to scrap in order to find a replacement for the injured receiver.
Since becoming a full time starter in 2013, Edelman has caught 258 passes which ranks him third in the league during that time span. He entered the game as the Patriots most productive receiver. He has caught 57 passes for 639 yards and seven touchdowns. Furthermore, he plays in nearly every offensive package for the Patriots. He entered the game Sunday having played 87.7% of the offensive snaps. He has also caught 5 touchdowns out of the slot which was tied for most in the league entering the game Sunday. With this enormous amount of production gone for the time being, the question of where the Patriots will find this production on a week to week basis is posed.
As Edelman went down, it wasn’t clear who would fill his void. It won’t be one player that takes all the repetitions in place of the injured receiver. Instead there will be a number of players who will be expected to contribute more. The already highly targeted tight end, Rob Gronkowsi, will see even more passes thrown his way. It was made obvious that Danny Amendola will be targeted more. During the win over the Giants he caught ten passes for 79 yards with the absence of Edelman for the majority of the game. Brandon Lafell will need to step up and be more of a consistent threat. Second year receiver Aaron Dobson also moves up the depth chart and will likely see more playing time. The Patriots also hope to get Keshawn Martin back from a hamstring injury who Tom Brady said, “is still a good player for us.” Martin is one of the Patriots most athletic receivers.
The Patriots depth at the wide receiver position will be extremely important over the next several weeks. Edelman has left extremely big shoes to fill which no one person can fill. If they use there depth and continue to get run production from Lagarette Blount they will still be able to be competitive. Edelman is one of the most talented receivers in the league and Patriots fans hate to see him go down but it has to be the next man up motto. They still have plenty of talented receivers who can get the job done. If all goes well and Edelman’s injury heals properly they could see him return early in the playoffs. But for now, it’s the next man up.
Featured image from sportsofboston