Patriots

Patriots react to Edelman injury: 'Guys are gonna have to step up'

Patriots react to Edelman injury: 'Guys are gonna have to step up'

FOXBORO -- It's the nature of the gig. Guys get hurt. 

When Julian Edelman went down with a season-ending knee injury on Friday night, the Patriots lost one of their most important players. And while Edelman's teammates feel for their friend, while they hope he'll make a speedy recovery, they know they have to move forward without him. It's just the nature of the gig. 

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Here's how some of Edelman's teammates reacted when asked about Edelman's absence on Monday . . .

CHRIS HOGAN

"Jules did a lot of stuff for this team, and he's been productive for a long time. He's a great player. But guys are going to have to step up. They're going to be asked to do different things. We're going to work on it during practice. It's the next man up mentality. There's a lot of guys on our offense with a lot of talent in that locker room. Guys will step up and have to make some plays . . .

"I'm just going to continue to do what I've been doing. Whatever I'm asked to do, I'm going to go out to do it to the best of my ability, take advantage of all the opportunities that I get and try to make some plays to help this team win."

DANNY AMENDOLA

“I’m going to miss him every day, man. He’ll be around. He’s a leader on this team. We’re going to miss him on the field. Obviously, he’s bummed, but he’s a strong kid. He’s one of the strongest people I know. So, he’ll be better for it.”

BRANDIN COOKS

“I’m praying for him. Just praying that he heals as fast as possible. Continue to encourage him, to have great thoughts. That’s all you can say right now. It’s very unfortunate. A guy like that, a warrior, who works so hard. We’ll definitely miss him for now, but at the same time, we know we have to get ready and keep the wheels turning, do what we have to do to make up for that.”

The reality is that all three of Edelman's fellow receivers -- as well as Malcolm Mitchell, when healthy -- will have to team up with New England's backs and tight ends to help make up for the production lost when Edelman went down.

Here's a look at how the team may try to make up for Edelman's absence since it won't be a one-man job. 

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Josh Allen tweets are evidence he was recently a teenager

Josh Allen tweets are evidence he was recently a teenager

First . . . 

If Twitter existed in 1983, when I was Josh Allen’s age, I probably would have spent less time squeezing blackheads, playing air guitar and reading the little paperback, Truly Tasteless Jokes. 

I worked in a bookstore at the Hanover Mall and that compilation of racial, ethnic, disabled, homophobic, anti-Semitic and mind-bogglingly offensive jokes (there was a subsection of dead baby jokes) was a runaway New York Times bestseller. In fact, it was top-selling paperback in the country that year

Growing up in a not-especially-diverse area, I was at a remove from the people these jokes were most offensive to. 

They were just jokes, just words. I could laugh at jokes about the Irish or about Catholics, even as my mother went bananas any time a nun or priest was lampooned. Having a little sense of humor, being able to laugh at oneself, mocking stereotypes with outrageous humor; I guess that’s the way I viewed the jokes. 

I didn’t know what I didn’t know. But I did know enough not to walk around the house with it. It was hidden next to other reading material under my bed. 

The success of the first book spawned imitators and led to think-pieces, none of which I read. If I had, maybe this quote from a July, 1983 NYT article may have sunk in. 

''There is a lot to make fun of, but not the foibles of human beings who have already suffered a lot,'' said John Hope Franklin, who is the James B. Duke Professor of History at Duke University. ''We should be coming to grips with the dignity of the human spirit, not embarrassing or shaming whole groups of people. The success of these so-called joke books is a sad testament to the taste of this country.''

Or this one from Jacqueline G. Wexler, then-president of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, said: ''I think it's the most wholesome thing in the world when ethnic groups laugh at themselves. But it's dangerous when someone else does it to you, because almost always there's an element of denigration.''

My point, as it relates to Allen, is that when you’re 16 your world doesn’t extend much past the end of your nose. You know right from wrong, sure, but you may not deeply and intimately know why something is truly “wrong” because you haven’t yet developed empathy.  

Thirty-three years later (holy crap), among the tens of thousands of people I have friends, co-workers, relatives -- people I love and respect deeply -- from all sorts of racial, ethnic and religious groups. I can attach faces and feelings to the people those jokes references and I laughed at. When you really reflect on it, it’s embarrassing. 

I’ve turned out mostly OK on most days. I imagine that, despite his tweets from 2012 and 2013, Josh Allen will as well. 

And 5

1. Check out the walk-up song for every prospect who made the trip to be at the first round in person tonight. Five Drake songs were requested by the 22 prospects who’ll be in the room. There are zero for Oingo Boingo. 

2. Peter King wouldn’t have theorized as vividly about the Bill Belichick-Rob Gronkowski-Drew Rosenhaus confab if he wasn’t really plugged in on what went down. And King theorized that Gronk came in from the woods in an effort to prevent being traded.  Adam Schefter’s tweet saying that “there will be no trade this season” is iron-clad as well. And those assurances, in my opinion, are vital for Gronk for two reasons. First, the perception that the team was fixing to deal him this offseason has been lurking for months. Second, Gronk does not want to be separated from Tom Brady. 

3. Gronk’s allusion to his workouts, how terrific he feels and his “pliability” underscore once again  that he feels it’s important to remind everyone how he’s working out and who he’s working out with while he’s been away. I think Alex Guerrero’s great and Gronk’s results (not to mention Brady’s) speak for themselves. Beating everyone over the head with it at every opportunity does nothing to mend the wounds that have clearly opened between Guerrero’s program and the one espoused by Bill Belichick and strength coach Moses Cabrera. Enough. 

4. The release of rapper Meek Mill this week and the remora-like attachment to the cause from Sixers owner Michael Rubin (and, by extension, Robert Kraft) brought to mind the essay by Tom Wolfe from 1970, Radical Chic. All I know about the case is what I’ve read and that means I know that the judge, Genece Brinkley,  seems to be loving the celebrity this has generated. But Wolfe’s essay, which details a 1966 dinner at Leonard Bernstein’s New York apartment in which the city’s ultra-elite hobnobbed with Black Panthers in bizarrely cloying fashion, reminds me of Kraft talking outside the Pennsylvania prison after a recent visit. I mean . . . why?

5. Time invested on a prospect is no guarantee of a team being “sold” on a player. In fact, if a team meets multiple times with a prospect, it’s almost a guarantee there are unresolved issues (injury, character, communication skills) that need further investigation. The report that the Patriots met twice with Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson was viewed as evidence the Pats are hot on his trail. And they may be. The talent and character are there and so is the upside. The level of accuracy and how his skills will translate and develop when running an NFL offense will be developing. There’s boom-or-bust all over him. Here’s a list of players the Patriots hosted in Foxboro (it’s not complete but an interesting read) .

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Prototypical Patriots: Fitzpatrick, Reid fit the mold at safety

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Prototypical Patriots: Fitzpatrick, Reid fit the mold at safety

The Patriots have long had one of the deeper safety groups in the league. Their trio of Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, and Duron Harmon see extensive playing time together as part of Bill Belichick's "big nickel" package due to their collective football IQ and sound tackling. 

But it wouldn't come as a shock to see Belichick and Nick Caserio look for safety help in this year's draft class. Both Chung and McCourty are in their thirties, and the team could be looking for insurance at a position that is critical to the functionality of their defense. 

There are a handful of safeties who meet the criteria the Patriots typically look for in the draft at this position: good tackling, intelligence, and explosive athletic ability. Let's get to the list . . . 

PROTOTYPICAL PATRIOTS - Previously in the series:

 

PROTOTYPES IN RANGE

MINKAH FITZPATRICK, ALABAMA, 204

The Patriots would have to climb the board to draft Fitzpatrick, but he looks like he could be the ideal successor to Patrick Chung whenever the Patriots feel like they have to make that move. His intangibles are off the charts, and he should excel in the slot, which is becoming a more important position in NFL secondaries with ever passing year. Need someone to blitz from the "star" spot? Need a matchup player for slot receivers and tight ends? Want a sub linebacker or a strong safety? He could do it all, and coming from 'Bama he'd be a seamless fit in New England. 

DERWIN JAMES, FLORIDA STATE, 6-2, 215

If we had a separate category for players who physically could be considered a prototype "plus," James would be the lone member. He breaks the typical Patriots safety mold because of his unique frame and ridiculous athleticism. He ran a 4.47-second 40, jumped 40 inches in the vertical and 132 inches in the broad jump. He still has technique issues he can clean up, but as a do-it-all chess piece for a defense? Someone who can jump routes as a box safety, play the run, and rush the passer better than some edge players in this draft? He's in a class all his own. If the Patriots want him, they'll probably have to get into the top-10 to get him. Unlikely as it is, they have the draft capital to do it. 

JUSTIN REID, STANFORD, 6-1, 207

Another Swiss Army knife in the secondary, Reid has the size to play safety and the athleticism (4.4-second 40, 36-inch vert, 128-inch broad, 6.65-second three-cone, 4.15-second short shuttle) to play all over Bill Belichick's secondary. He may over-pursue at times, but if he polishes his game in a consistent role at the next level, he has the traits to be special. Given the program he's coming from and given his athleticism and versatility, he's one of the best Patriots fits in the draft class regardless of position. 

JESSIE BATES, WAKE FOREST, 6-1, 200

Another solid athlete at the position who projects as a versatile safety with good ball skills thanks in part to an extensive baseball background, Bates may not be as refined as some others at this position -- his been critiques for his technique -- but his ability to change direction is NFL-caliber. 

GODWIN IGWEBUIKE, NORTHWESTERN, 5-11, 213

Athletically, Igwebuike is everything the Patriots like in their safeties. Blazing 40 (4.44 seconds), explosive jumps (35.5-inch vert, 128-inch broad) and good change-of-direction skills (6.56-second three-cone, 4.12-second short shuttle). He has good size (Patrick Chung is listed at 5-11, 215), he's not afraid to hit, he's smart, and if he doesn't contribute as a strong safety quickly, he'll at least provide special teams value. Igwebuike was no stranger to the kicking game at Northwestern.

TARVARIUS MOORE, SOUTHERN MISS, 6-1, 199

Moore lit up his pro day, stomped it out, then torched it again, and again, and again. He dominated every event, running a 4.32-second 40 and a 6.95-second three-cone. He also jumped 133 inches in the broad and 38.5 inches in the vertical. He had eight pass breakups, per Pro Football Focus, and he could be a Day 2 pick as a free safety.

DANE CRUIKSHANK, ARIZONA, 6-1, 209

Specimen. Cruikshank ran a 4.41-second 40, jumped 38.5 inches in the vertical and showed good change-of-direction skills with a 6.89-second three-cone at this year's combine. He needs work defensively, but he has all the measurables (and the aggressiveness) to factor in as a special-teamer right away. 

SIRAN NEAL, JACKSONVILLE STATE, 6-0, 206

With enough speed (4.56-second 40) and plenty of explosiveness (40.5-inch vertical, 122-inch broad), Neal could put his toughness to use as a box safety at the next level. He has experience at both safety and corner, and he could be a Day 3 special-teams option with upside defensively.


IMPERFECT BUT INTRIGUING

RONNIE HARRISON, ALABAMA, 6-2, 207

Harrison is oh-so-close to being a prototype at this spot. The school, the size, the explosiveness (34-inch vert, 120-inch broad) -- they all check out. His speed might be a concern, though. He didn't run the 40 at the combine and then checked in with a less-than-ideal 4.63 at his pro day. 

QUENTON MEEKS, STANFORD, 6-1, 209

Meeks played corner at Stanford, but his speed and size may force a shift to safety at the next level. If he makes that move and takes to it . . . he'd end up as a very solid athlete on the back end. He checks just about every Patriots requirement physically and athletically compared to the top-100 picks the Patriots have made on safeties in the past. The son of a coach and a good tackler, coming from a well-respected program, Meeks could be a fit in New England on Day 3.

QUIN BLANDING, UVA, 6-2, 207

Blanding isn't the athlete the Patriots typically like to draft when they're looking for safeties, but he was incredibly productive for the Cavaliers, making 502 tackles in four years as a starter, and playing in a whopping 98 percent of the defensive snaps. You've heard Belichick say it before: Availability is more important than ability. 

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