The Patriots placed Julian Edelman on injured reserve, which means the veteran wide receiver will miss at least the team’s next three games.
Edelman, 34, was already going to miss Sunday’s divisional matchup against the Bills in Buffalo, after undergoing a procedure on his left knee this past week. Now, he’ll also miss games against the Jets (road) and Ravens (home) before becoming eligible to return in Week 11 against the Texans in Houston.
Coach Bill Belichick indicated Friday he’s optimistic Edelman will play again this season.
“I don’t think this is a season-ending situation, but we’ll see,” Belichick said. “Hopefully, he’ll be back. I know he has worked awfully hard, and nobody’s more competitive than Julian is. So, he’ll do everything he can to be back out there and we’ll just take it day by day.”
Edelman seems hopeful, too. In an Instagram post on Saturday, he wrote that his “minor setback” will be followed by a “major comeback.” He also included the hashtag, “#ToughTimesDon’tLastToughPeopleDo.”
With second-year receiver N’Keal Harry also ruled out against the Bills, the Patriots will turn to Damiere Byrd, Gunner Olszewski, and Jakobi Meyers. Undrafted rookie Isaiah Zuber was also temporarily elevated to the 53-man roster off the practice squad.
Harry is still recovering from a head injury suffered in the first quarter against San Francisco last week. Forty-niners cornerback Tavarius Moore was fined $5,565 for unnecessary roughness for his helmet-to-helmet hit that put Harry in concussion protocol. There was no flag on the play.
“Football is a team sport,” Byrd said. “People go down. This is just an opportunity for us to step up, especially myself.”
On Saturday, the Patriots also placed rookie offensive tackle Justin Herron on injured reserve. Herron, who has been a valuable piece amid shuffling on the offensive line, was limited in practice all week with an ankle injury sustained in the fourth quarter against the 49ers. Like Edelman, he will miss at least New England’s next three games.
Cornerback Stephon Gilmore and rookie safety Kyle Dugger will not be available Sunday against the Bills.
Both players were downgraded to out on Saturday after initially being listed as questionable. Gilmore injured his knee in practice on Thursday and did not participate in Friday’s snowy stadium session, while Dugger was limited in practice all week with an ankle injury.
Their absences will test New England’s secondary. Dugger, a second-round draft pick, has earned consistent playing time in his first NFL season. Gilmore, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, was on the field for 100 percent of the Patriots' defensive snaps in their last three games.
“[Steph’s] a big key to what we do,” said fellow cornerback Jonathan Jones. “Someone we depend on in the secondary to go out week after week to do his job. But, we have a lot of guys who are ready to play and ready to step up if he can’t go or whatever it might be.”
Jones, Devin McCourty, Jason McCourty, Adrian Phillips, Joejuan Williams, and Terrence Brooks should all be active for Sunday’s game. Cornerback J.C. Jackson is questionable, popping up on the injury report on Friday with a knee injury.
Ready for action
The Patriots activated rookie linebacker Josh Uche and safety Cody Davis off injured reserve. Uche has a chance to make his NFL debut on Sunday . . . The team also officially signed defensive tackle Nick Thurman, previously a member of the practice squad, to the 53-man roster . . . New England hosted wide receiver Donte Moncrief, wide receiver Darius Jennings, and defensive tackle Ryan Glasglow for workouts, according to ESPN.
Nicole Yang can be reached at email@example.com.