For the first time since losing his appeal of a four-game NFL suspension, Julian Edelman addressed the subject with reporters after Saturday's training camp practice. The veteran Patriots receiver admitted that, while he's disappointed in the outcome, he takes full responsibility for putting himself and his team in an uncomfortable position. He'll have to miss the first four regular season games this year as a result of having violated the league's performance-enhancing drug policy.
"I've got to follow the [NFL] protocols a little better and make sure this never happens again. I'm accountable for my actions. Ultimately my focus now is getting my knee right and going out and playing football at a high level."
As Edelman prepares for the upcoming suspension, he also continues to rebuild the strength and confidence in his surgically-repaired right knee, which ended his 2017 season last August when he injured it in a preseason game at Detroit. The 32-year-old isn't wearing a brace or medical sleeve on the knee, and he looks like he's been running and cutting at full speed during the first few days of camp. Yet, Edelman confessed that he's still dealing with the psychological aspect of recovery from so serious an injury.
"I tell you all I feel great right now, and I don't know how tomorrow feels. You know how it goes. It's major surgery. We all know that. I'm confident to go out and compete and that's the exciting thing about it.
"It's too hard to say because this is my fifth day now in a row. Some things feel great, some things I've got to work, and that's why you have training camp… to go out here, especially for me, to go out and develop my fundamentals again and learn how to cut on my knee right and work on the strengthening of that and building confidence with constant repetition. That's where I'm at."
Edelman also admitted it was difficult to sit out 2017 and watch the Patriots reach another Super Bowl without him.
"But I'm excited to be out here," he added, "excited to work on my game…dusting the old cobwebs out and getting to hit somebody and feel a body on you while you're running a route, being able to block, pushing and really cutting off your leg into someone else. That's what this is for. It's for building your fundamentals, especially coming off of injury, a season not playing. I have to really take this seriously and critique everything 110 percent to ultimately get ready for my season."
Due to collective bargaining agreement restrictions, NFL clubs aren't allowed to practice in full pads at training camp until the third day. Saturday was that day for the Patriots, and the morning session got off to a thunderous start.
During an early running-game drill, second-year defensive end Deatrich Wise shed a would-be block by tight end Dwayne Allen and met running back Jeremy Hill in the backfield. Hill was knocked off the ground and onto his back by a hit that was so loud it could be heard clear across to the opposite end of the field where media were watching from afar.
That was easily the hardest hit of the day, but probably won't be the last of its kind this summer. The Patriots are expected to continue practicing in full pads again on Sunday.
Lucien lucks out
The Patriots' July 23rd re-signing of Devin Lucien was essentially an interception of a Packers fumble, as the player tells it.
New England originally selected the now 25-year-old wide receiver in the seventh round of the 2016 NFL Draft. He spent his entire rookie season on the team's practice squad and was eventually released last summer at the end of the preseason. Ever since, he's spent time on four other NFL teams' practice squads.
Lucien was available again – just barely – in late July when the Patriots called. He was headed to Los Angeles International Airport to catch a flight to Wisconsin to attend a workout with the Packers.
"It's a really funny story," Lucien recounted to reporters in Foxborough. "I got a call from my agent saying that New England wants to work you out if Green Bay doesn't sign you. I get to the airport and Green Bay sent me the wrong itinerary for my flight.
"So, I called my agent back. I'm trying to talk to him about my flight, trying to make sure I get to the [Green Bay] workout. He's like, 'I'm on the phone with Nick [Caserio, the Patriots director of player personnel]. I can't talk to you right now.' So he hangs up with me. I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to get to Green Bay."
Shortly thereafter, Lucien's agent called back to inform his client that New England didn't need a workout and just wanted to sign Lucien again.
"So, I got on the plane that same day when I was supposed to go to Green Bay," Lucien continued with a smile, "and ended up flying to New England. It was a really crazy day. The way everything happened it was near like a dream. I'm happy it happened that way."
Though he's made some nice grabs since rejoining the Patriots this summer, Lucien still faces long odds to make the 53-man roster. For the moment, he's happy to take advantage of every opportunity that comes his way. It helps that he's already familiar with the New England offense.
"Honestly, it was the first thing I learned [in the NFL], so, it's like your first love," he remarked. "You always remember that first thing, you know what I mean? It hasn't been that tough picking it up. I think the toughest thing is going to be probably getting back into Patriot shape. I was back home in California just trying to get in the best shape I can. I didn't know I'd be getting a call from New England. I don't think you can ever get into really Patriot camp shape just working out on your own."
Buy: Deatrich Wise – After a productive rookie season, the young defensive end has started strong in his second Patriots training camp.
Sell: Jason McCourty – The veteran corner was mostly a spectator during the spring and, while he's participated in the first three days of training camp, he's done little to impress at this early point.
Play of the Day: During a goal-line period, QB Tom Brady fired a slant pass to WR Jordan Matthews, who was cutting into the end zone from the left of formation. As the ball arrived, Matthews was popped by CB Stephon Gilmore, sending both players to the turf. The ball bounced off Matthews' shoulder pad, hung up in the air momentarily, and looked like it was going to fall incomplete. However, Matthews, on his back, stuck out his right arm and caught the ball before bringing it back to his body. Fantastic effort by Gilmore to break up the pass, but an even more impressive finish by Matthews to salvage a score.
Quote of the Day: "Oh man, not even [out of] a suitcase, but a duffle bag." ~ Lucien describing how he's been living the past year with five different teams, including the Patriots