Ever since the start of the Brady/Belichick era the Patriots have lived by the “next man up” mantra, and it seems as though they may have to do that again with the recent injury news about Jules and Dola. On May 11 we got the news that Edelman had surgery to reinsert the screw into the foot he broke last November. The timetable for this type of injury to be fully healed is 3-4 months, and last year Jules missed the final two months of the regular season before returning for the playoffs, where he looked good against KC, but was invisible in Denver. Clearly he wasn’t fully healthy then, so my question is why wasn’t the surgery done right after the season? The team says he should be ready for training camp, but training camp is two and a half months away. It’s logical to expect him to sit out most if not all of the preseason games and who knows how long it will take him to feel comfortable again.
I felt a lot better about Edelman potentially missing games when the news of Danny Amendola restructuring his contract to stay with the Patriots came out, but only a few days later it was reported that he was recovering from surgery to his knee and his ankle. The reports say that the team is hopeful he will be ready for training camp, but that there is no guarantee he will be ready for week 1 of the regular season.
So where does this leave us? The mark of a good team is depth, and thank god the Patriots have an abundance of pass catchers. The signing of Chris Hogan makes a lot more sense now, because at the time we all questioned why we signed another guy who seems to have the same skill set as Jules and Dola. These injuries should also open up more opportunities for rookie receiver Malcolm Mitchell. After he was drafted most expected him to play a limited role his rookie season with all of the talent ahead of him, but if Edelman and Amendola miss games Mitchell is going to be forced to pick up some of the slack. This is also a huge break for Nate Washington and Keyshawn Martin, both of whom looked like camp bodies just a week ago. They are both veteran receivers who have played in the same system the Patriots run under Bill O’Brien in Houston. If the Patriots aren’t comfortable with Mitchell early on maybe one or both of these players ends up on the roster and playing early.
The good news is whoever is filling in for Jules and Dola, if they even miss time, shouldn’t have to be relied upon too heavily. With Gronk and Bennett at tight end, and Dion Lewis out of the backfield you should be able to get by without a ton of production from the receiver spot for a few weeks while the top guys get healthy.