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The New England Patriots suffered a major loss to thier team Friday night. Wide receiver Julian Edelman was carted off the field with a leg injury after catching a pass verses the Detroit Lions. The teams worst fears was confirmed on Saturday when an MRI revealed a conplete tear of the ACL in his right knee.
Edelman led the Patriots with 98 receptions and 1,106 yards in 2016. The loss will be tough on a Patriots offense that ranked third last season. Tom Brady and company will have to make up that production. Let’s take a look at who can step up for “Captain America” and the Patriots.
The team will look to their monstrous tight end to regain his 2015 (teams leading receiver) form after an injury cut last season in half. This will be his seventh season and he already has 68 career touchdowns and averages 15 yards per reception. A weapon Brady will need to stay healthy this year, Gronkowski should be the first option on every pass play.
After being hardly used in the regular season, Hogan exploded in the playoffs for 17 catches and 332 yards (two touchdowns). Only Edelman himself had more yards for the Patriots last post season, a mere ten yards more. Safe to say, Brady was looking for him during the AFC Championship Game. He finished with nine catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns. Brady will have to look his way much more as he’s proven to be a deep threat.
The newly acquired massive deep threat weapon, Cooks has broken 1,100 yards receiving the last two seasons. Entering only his 4th season overall, he has career averages of 68.1 yards receiving per game and 13.3 yards per reception. After they get more acquainted, Brady should find him deep on a pretty consistent rate.
As a running back, White finished third with 60 receptions. As a Patriot, only Edelman caught more passes last season. He finished with five receiving touchdowns (zero rushing). Safe to say, he’s gonna catch a lot of balls out of the backfield. Brady enjoys using him as his safety valve on third down (shades of Kevin Faulk).
We’ve seen this song and dance before with New England. One guy goes down, another guy comes out of nowhere, then they make a deep playoff run. Coach Bill Belichek has a knack for plugging in guys and making it work and he has the ultimate field general in Brady. It will be up to these other players to step up and make plays in Edelman’s absence.