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Patriots receiver Edelman facing 4-game suspension for performance-enhancing substance

The Providence Journal
June 07. 2018 2:14PM
New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman gets tackled by Detroit Lions strong safety Tavon Wilson during the first quarter of last August's game at Ford Field. He tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in the game and missed all of last season as a result. (Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Something seemed off with Julian Edelman on Thursday.

At the start of practice, the wide receiver was nowhere to be found as the offense and defense were going through their walkthrough drills. Around five-to-10 minutes after the first whistle, Edelman walked up the concrete stairs leading to the practice fields, something was still amiss.

After practicing more than he had all offseason on Wednesday, Edelman barely participated in the Patriots’ last practice of minicamp. After catching passes from Tom Brady 24 hours earlier, Edelman was stationed on the sideline. At one point, Patriots owner Robert Kraft walked onto the field and spoke with him.

After practiced ended, the mystery was solved.

According to ESPN, Edelman is facing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance enhancing substance policy.

The 32-year-old, who is coming off a season-ending ACL injury, is reportedly appealing the suspension. If the appeal is denied, Edelman will be forced to sit out the first four games of the 2018 regular season, missing contests against Houston, Jacksonville, Detroit and Miami.

Edelman would also lose $470,588.20 in base salary. He also wouldn’t be allowed in the Patriots’ facility to work out or practice during the suspension.

This marks the second PED suspension for the Patriots in the last three seasons. In 2016, Rob Ninkovich was also suspended for four games after testing positive for a banned substance. This marks the first time in Edelman’s career that he’s faced any type of drug related suspension from the NFL.

Thursday’s news is a big blow for the Patriots.

The offense lost Danny Amendola this offseason as the receiver signed with the Miami Dolphins. With Tom Brady’s top slot receiver gone, Edelman was expected to pick up more of the slack inside the numbers. With Edelman out with an injury last season, Amendola was key on third-down plays, and in general, when Brady was in trouble. The quarterback also relied on Brandin Cooks, who has been traded to Los Angeles.

Brady, who didn’t report to OTAs and missed seven practices this spring, is already behind when it comes to getting on the same page as some of the Patriots new targets such as Jordan Matthews, Cordarrelle Patterson and others. Someone like Matthews, for example, said he first met Brady this past week as minicamp opened. The veteran, who played in Buffalo and Philadelphia, is bigger than your typical slot receiver, he’s had success in that position.

According to Pro Football Focus, Matthews led the NFL in receiving yards gains from the slot from 2014-2016. His 2,389 receiving yards from the spot beat out Randall Cobb, Jarvis Landry and Doug Baldwin.

Other players who could factor in include sixth-round slot receiver Braxton Berrios and Riley McCarron, another slot receiver who was on the Patriots practice squad last year. The depth chart also includes Chris Hogan, Kenny Britt, Malcolm Mitchell, Phillip Dorsett and Cody Hollister.

Edelman missed all of last season after suffering a torn ACL in the second preseason game in Detroit. In 2016, he had one of his best seasons, catching 98 passes for 1,106 yards and three touchdowns. This spring, we’ve seen him progress each day that practice has been open to the media.


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