FOXBORO -- Julian Edelman put it upon himself that he'll be missing the first four games of the 2018 season.
The Patriots receiver was suspended for a quarter of the year for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy, appealed the decision and lost. Rather than continue to fight, he's accepted the penalty, and on Saturday he admitted he needed to be more careful.
"Obviously you're disappointed with it," Edelman said. "But I gotta follow the 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."
On Saturday both Edelman and Tom Brady met with the media simultaneously. Soon after Tom Brady ended his press conference after receiving a question about Edelman and Edelman's connection to Brady's "body coach" and business partner Alex Guerrero, Edelman fielded a Guerrero question himself.
Guerrero released a statement last month saying that he had nothing to do with whatever led to Edelman's positive PED test, but Edelman chose not to discuss Guerrero when given the opportunity following Day 3 of training camp practice.
"What's in the past is in the past," Edelman said. "I love Alex. Ultimately I'm about just going out here and playing football. I'm not here to talk about . . . make a headline on something. Just here playing football, buddy."
Edelman has been on the field throughout the spring and he's looked like a full participant through the early portion of training camp. Without a brace on his surgically-repaired knee, the knee he injured during a preseason game in Detroit last summer, Edelman has been cutting well and moving fluidly.
Asked if he's where he'd like to be, Edelman paused.
Julian Edelman says he’s disappointed by suspension but he is accountable for his actions! Now it’s time for 🏈 pic.twitter.com/badnlvOwhI— The Camera Guys (@NBCSCameraGuys) July 28, 2018
"It's too hard to say because this is my fifth day now in a row, [and] there's things here and there you gotta work," he said. "There's some things that feel great. There's some things I gotta work and that's why you have training camp. It's 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 go out and work on the strengthening of that and building confidence with constant repetition. That's where I'm at.
"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."
But there are steps Edelman knows he has to take before he's competing at the level to which he accustomed. There's the cutting. There's cutting with pads on and feeling people around his very recently very vulnerable lower body. There's blocking and remembering how to use pads after almost a full year away from them.
It's a lot.
"There's a little more contact going up, dusting the old cobwebs out and getting to hit somebody and feel a body on you while you're running a route, a heavy body," he said. "Going in and 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."
Even though he'll miss the first month, the fact that Edelman is getting ready for the season this point qualifies as a hurdle cleared. Teammates who tore up their knees last year like Cyrus Jones (last summer) and Nate Ebner (last fall) are still on the physically unable to perform list, working out on a lower field while their healthier teammates practice.
Edelman's glad he's on the other side of the hill behind Gillette Stadium separating the two groups.
"It was a hell of a year to just sit and watch your team play in a Super Bowl without you and there on the couch," he said. "It was tough. But I'm excited to be out here, and I'm excited to work on my game."