Belichick on Edelman’s ban: ‘We’re all disappointed, but it is what it is’
FOXBOROUGH — Among the many veterans who reported for work at Gillette Stadium this week was receiver Julian Edelman, who will serve a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
“Julian’s a very hardworking player,’’ coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday morning. “We’re all disappointed, but it is what it is. He’s disappointed. He’s moved on. We’ve moved on. Just take what we have now and do the best we can with it. I know he’s been here the last couple days. He’s got a good attitude. He’ll make the most of the opportunities that he has, whatever those are.’’
The Patriots have a crowded field of receivers with 11 candidates looking to fill six spots. Edelman, who can participate in all camp practices and preseason games, won’t count against the 53-man roster until he’s eligible to return on Oct. 1. New England hosts the Colts Oct. 4 on “Thursday Night Football.”
Edelman missed last season after tearing his ACL during an exhibition game in Detroit. He looked poised to be a full go for the season during OTAs and minicamp where he wouldn’t have qualified for “full participation” status but was awfully close. News of Edelman’s failed test broke moments after minicamp wrapped up.
The competition to fill Edelman’s slot receiver role — Danny Amendola absorbed a lot of those snaps in 2017 — should be fierce throughout the summer.
Jordan Matthews, who at 6 feet 3 inches, 215 pounds doesn’t fit the prototypical slot receiver mold, has been very productive in the role in the past. He collected 225 catches for 2,673 yards during his first three seasons in Philadelphia.
Another candidate is Riley McCarron, who spent last summer in Houston’s camp before landing on New England’s practice squad for the season. The 5-foot-9-inch, 198-pounder caught 50 passes for 584 yards during his time at Iowa.
Additionally, rookie sixth-round pick Braxton Berrios will be in the mix. The 5-9, 190-pounder had 100 receptions for 1,175 yards during four seasons at Miami.
McCarron and Berrios both handled punt-returning duties in college and could help fill Edelman’s void in that area as well.
Mums the word on Mitchell
Belichick had no comment on reports earlier in the week that third-year receiver Malcolm Mitchell, who missed last season as he dealt with chronic knee woes, is being shopped. A league source confirmed Mitchell had a procedure on the knee Tuesday.
“Yeah, I’m not really going to engage in media speculation, unless you have some professional comment on that, which I haven’t seen any,’’ said the coach. “I certainly haven’t talked to any media person about Malcolm Mitchell, so you’d have to talk to whoever that is.’’
Belichick couldn’t elaborate when asked about where Mitchell is physically at this point or what steps need to be taken for him to get back to playing.
“I can’t really do that now, no,’’ he said. “I mean, that’s part of where we are on these first few days of training camp. Physicals, conditioning run, and so forth, and that’s really for every player. Some of the players who haven’t had any injuries or setbacks or haven’t been getting treatment for anything, [we] kind of know where those guys are. But we have a number of players that are in various, I’d say, degrees of availability or in various states of rehabilitation and preparation for the season. Those guys have been away from us for a month, but they’ve been [getting] treated. They haven’t been active on the football field. As we get into those drills and periods, then well know more.’’
Mitchell has plenty of support among his teammates.
“Yeah, that’s my guy,’’ said Devin McCourty. “He’s a younger guy that obviously you see a lot of him working his butt off to try to get back out there . . . He’s kind of battled through injuries and being out there. He’s been a good player when he’s been out there — very effective for us. I think the good thing about him is his spirits are always high. He’s always continuing to work, he’s not discouraged at all.’’
Contracts and comedy
While there’s been much speculation about new or reworked deals for quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski, there were no updates. “We don’t talk about contracts,’’ said Belichick. [Those are] personal matters.’’ . . . Comedy stylings: McCourty, when asked how his twin, Jason, was getting along: “I think he’s doing pretty good. I just told him to just act like me as much as possible.’’ . . . Not to be outdone, center David Andrews drew some laughs when asked about the size of new tackle Trent Brown, who is listed at 6-8, 380 pounds. “He’s a massive guy,’’ said Andrews. “I wouldn’t have wanted to feed him as a child, that’s for sure.” . . . With inclement weather forecasted for the next few days, fans are encouraged to check the team’s official website for any changes in the practice schedule. The rain likely won’t alter anything but if there’s lightning, the sessions will be moved indoors and be closed to the public.