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Ask PFW: Overcoming Edelman's injury

Fans' questions answered in this week's PFW mailbag.

Is [Keshawn] Martin, [Aaron] Dobson, or [Matthew] Slater the "next man up" with Julian Edelman out? Are our other tight ends going to be incorporated now because if that is the case we are in some trouble. I'm assuming [Brandon] LaFell is going to be our #1 and [Danny] Amendola our #2? Barry Greenstien

If any receiver on the active roster can help mitigate the loss of Edelman, it could be Martin, the newcomer who arrived earlier this season in a trade from Houston. He was contributing nearly right away before suffering a hamstring injury that has sidelined him for the last month. In his brief appearances, he looked like he did a good job of picking up the offense and displayed good hands. It would be great for the Patriots if Martin can come back now that Edelman is out for the foreseeable future.

The other tight ends you referenced – Scott Chandler and Michael Williams – are not nearly as effective in the passing game as Rob Gronkowski, obviously, but they might have to be called upon to do more in that area. As far as who's "No. 1" or "No. 2," that could change from week to week, depending on the game plan for that week's opponent. Some weeks it could be LaFell, other weeks Amendola, other weeks Gronk… you just don't know with this versatile Patriots offense. * Erik Scalavino*

This may be a long shot, but any chance the Patriots take a look a Joseph Randle? With Edelman down, are there any prospects on the practice squad that might get called up? 


I'll start with your second question. Yes, there's a rookie wide receiver on the practice squad, Chris Harper, who was one of the most impressive players at that position during training camp and the preseason. He's got goods hands and some return ability. So, if injuries continue to affect that position, he certainly could be promoted to fill a void. And I think he'd be able to contribute in a positive way.

To address your first point, the Patriots' scouting department is always taking looks at available players, so, I'm sure they're doing their homework on Randle, just like they would any other player. Erik Scalavino

How many key contributors can the Patriots lose to injury? How does the current list of key players injured effect the game plan and whatnot going forward?

Brett Larson*

No one around the NFL is crying for the Patriots. Every team, every season, suffers injuries to key players. It's an unfortunate part of the game that all teams deal with, not just the Patriots. However, New England is among the best for a reason, because they're among the best at cross-training their players to be able to fill in at multiple positions.

Sure, replacing guys like Dion Lewis and Julian Edelman or Jamie Collins isn't easy, and the replacement options don't necessarily do everything those guys can do, but they're able to do enough to keep the offense, defense, and special teams humming most of the time. But yes, that does require some adjustments to personnel groupings and the game plan. Not enough, though, to panic. The Patriots will be a stronger roster overall as a result of all these injuries because they're giving several players chances they would otherwise not have to contribute and become more versatile as players and units. Erik Scalavino

I read short-term IR rules and cannot find anything that says that a player cannot be put on it mid-season, so can Edelman be put on short-term IR to open a roster spot? 

Frank McCormick*

You're right, Frank. Players can be placed on short-term IR (technically called injured reserve with a designation to return) at almost any point during the regular season. However, that designation can only be used once per team each season. New England used the short-term IR list this year for Bryan Stork and his concussion. So, no, Edelman is not eligible for it now because it is no longer available to the Patriots in 2015. 

Erik Scalavino*

Thanks for keeping Patriots fans in the know! I'm concerned about Tom Brady's demeanor and body language during recent pressers and interviews. He has come across as reeeaallly tired and down. Very unusual, in my opinion. Maybe he's just tired of the press (after his off-season, who wouldn't be?). My question: you guys have closer access to him than us. Is he having fun? Is he enjoying this unbelievably successful run? Does he still -- as he said just a few weeks ago -- want to play for ten more seasons? The team takes its lead from him, and I'm worried. Where's the fiery, passionate, almost collegiate Brady that we're used to? I want him to know that we support him and we think he's rockin' it! Keep it up TB12!

Mark Aiken*

What matters is what Brady's energy level and demeanor are like on game days, not during his weekly media appearances. If you've been watching this year's games closely, you'll have seen no lack of energy from this QB. He's always fired up. More so than I've seen him in years, in fact, and I have no doubt that he's more motivated than ever to win another Super Bowl title. I see him smiling, laughing, and joking, having fun every day when he goes out to practice and interacts with teammates in the locker room. So, whatever impression you're getting from his podium appearances, fear not. Brady is fine and playing some of his best football ever. 

Erik Scalavino*

I'm thrilled the Pats finally beat their nemesis, the NY Giants.  However, I'm disappointed with the play of [Devin] McCourty.  For a guy getting such a big contract he should be making more game changing plays, but I haven't seen him make many.  What is your assessment of McCourty and do you think the Pats reached by giving him the big contract?  Go Pats!!Mel Buford

McCourty has been solid, his glaring miscue against the Giants on the Beckham touchdown notwithstanding. He's New England's best safety, a dependable leader of the secondary, the defense, and the team overall. There are very few safeties in this league whom I would classify as big-play guys or game-changers, as you put it. That's just the nature of the position today. So, while you might not see McCourty making highlight-reel plays, keep in mind that he's still among the most reliable players at that position in the NFL. Had they not given him that contract, he might be elsewhere today and the Patriots secondary would be weaker as a result. 

Erik Scalavino*

Do the Pats continue to look for outside help at the CB position or are they going to look within the organization for continued help? Will they settle for having shootouts with some of the better teams down the stretch or will they try and close off a lot of those gaps that have been hurting us?

Doug Somers*

Well, Doug, the trade deadline earlier this month was the last opportunity for the Patriots to acquire significant talent outside the organization. Here on out, the only players they'd be able to pick up would be bottom-of-the-barrel types for whom expectations would be very low. Like it or not, the club will have to go with what they've got from here until (possibly) February. I was actually encouraged by what I saw from the secondary overall and Malcolm Butler in particular against the Giants. This group might actually be starting to turn the corner, so to speak.  

Erik Scalavino*

What ever happened to last year's pick up of Tyler Gafney?

Brandon Gallasso*

The second-year running back was concussed during training camp and placed on season-ending IR. 

Erik Scalavino*

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