FOXBORO -- Here are five quick-hitting thoughts from what transpired between the Patriots and Colts on Thursday night . . .
EDELMAN ACTIVE AND...ACTIVE
There were a couple of approaches the Patriots could've taken with Julian Edelman. One could've been to ease him in. The other was to use him early and often to knock off whatever rust might've accumulated since his suspension began. The team went with the latter. Despite no real practices leading up to the game, no hits since preseason, Edelman started and caught all three passes thrown his way on the game's first drive. He also returned punts. Rust? Hard to find any as he easily found open areas in Indy's zone coverages for easy gains. Edelman did have a drop on third down in the first quarter -- a continuation of an issue he had during training camp. He finished the game with seven catches for 57 yards on nine targets. No easing him in here.
GORDON GRABS BRADY'S 500TH
Tom Brady's 500th touchdown pass looked like a bad idea when he let the football go. On a scramble-drill type of play -- though there was no scramble, Brady just had an eon in the pocket and routes were freelanced as a result -- Brady launched one deep to the right corner of the end zone where two Colts defenders were waiting. But Brady knew he had a good jump-ball option on the other end. Not Rob Gronkowski, but Josh Gordon. Gordon began the play running an over route -- the majority of his targets through two games have come over the middle -- then broke outside when he realized the play had been extended. He fought through a mugging to reverse course, found the football in the air, and out-jumped the Indy defensive backs to catch his first touchdown as a member of the Patriots. His rare set of skills were on display for that one, and his ability to make a play in traffic should only help him earn more trust from his quarterback moving forward. Gordon is the 71st player to catch a pass from Brady, which is an NFL record.
NO SIGNS OF EXACERBATION FOR GRONKOWSKI
When the inactive list was released and Rob Gronkowski wasn't on it, that might've been an indication that the tight end was feeling fresh enough. Dealing with an ankle injury, he started, and had three catches for 26 yards in the first half. Clearly, given the outcome, the Patriots would've been fine without him. Perhaps incentives were on Gronkowski's mind when he suited up, but pushing himself on a bad ankle that might linger longer if not properly healed seems like it could be as big a detriment to his pursuit of his incentives as sitting out. Either way, Gronkowski looked OK despite fumbling deep in Colts territory late in the third quarter.
MICHEL PATIENT, POWERFUL
By the time Sony Michel had stiff-armed Matthias Farley to finish off his 34-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, he had 16 carries for 92 yards. And while the score was impressive, the runs where he showed patience at the line of scrimmage were an indication that he's starting to see the game more clearly. He had a 16-yarder in the second quarter where he wisely set up James Develin's block to turn a decent gain into an sizable one. On his next run, he was hit three yards behind the line of scrimmage on first down yet turned the play into a three-yard gain. If he can combine that hard-charging style with some of the patience he's shown over the last two weeks, he'll be a nice complement to James White moving forward.
CLAYBORN FLASHING SIGNS
Through one half of play, Adrian Clayborn drew a hold on third down to help eventually force a punt. He also laid a hit on Andrew Luck that forced the Colts quarterback into an easy interception that landed in the hands of Patrick Chung. Clayborn had had one hurry in his last two games combined, and that was it for quarterback pressures. If he can consistently help spell Trey Flowers as a legitimate pass-rushing option, the Patriots defense will be much better off.