Julian Edelman will be sidelined for the first three weeks of training camp with a thumb injury. Edelman’s injury has caused speculation about the abilities of the Patriots receiving corp. Currently, only Phillip Dorsett has caught a pass in an NFL game from Tom Brady. However, Edelman’s injury could be a much needed kick start to the team’s passing game.
With Edelman sidelined, the Patriots receiving corp for camp includes Philip Dorsett, N’Keal Harry, Braxton Berrios, Maurice Harris, and Dontrelle Inman. As previously mentioned, only Dorsett has caught passes in a game from Brady.
How is this positive?
For the first three weeks of camp, Brady needs to get on the same page with these new receivers. His ability to click with new and young receivers has been heavily criticized in recent years. The initial absence of Edelman can accelerate the development of trust between Brady and the rest of the receiving corp. Additionally, it’s a tremendous opportunity for those receivers to prove themselves as viable options in the passing game.
Back to Basics
It’s obvious how great Tom Brady is. That does not mean he is invulnerable from criticism. Particularly, Brady has always been associated with the “favorite receiver is the open receiver” cliche. In recent memory, this hasn’t always been the case. There have been egregious forced passes to Josh Gordon and Rob Gronkowski, multiple times ignoring an open Chris Hogan on downfield routes, and perhaps the most notable moment was missing an open James White on the sack-fumble that ultimately cost the team Super Bowl 52.
Why rehash these sour moments for fans? Without Edelman in training camp, it’s a chance for Brady to revert back to that basic principle of “my favorite receiver is the open receiver.” Developing that rapport with the rest of the receivers will allow him to trust those players when they create separation or get open.
Kick Start, Not Replacement
The Patriots are not a better team without Julian Edelman in the receiving corp. His return will bolster both the passing game and run game due to his impact on defenses. His absence at the start of training camp has the chance of being a great kick start to the potential development of the rest of the offense. It’s up to the other receivers and the greatest quarterback of all time to do the rest.