Injury-plagued Patriots hurry to prepare for Jets
New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman talks with the media in the locker room of Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013. The Patriots play the New York Jets on Thursday in Foxborough. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski walks up the stairs to the practice facility in Foxborough, Mass., Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013. The Patriot's are preparing for Thursday night's game against the New York Jets. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady talks with the media during a press conference following a walk through in Foxborough, Mass., Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013. The Patriots play the New York Jets on Thursday in Foxborough. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick listens to a question during a press conference at Gillette Stadium, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)
New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount prepares for a walk through at the practice facility in Foxborough, Mass., Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)
New England Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork speaks with the media in the locker room at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013. The Patriots play the New York Jets on Thursday in Foxborough. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Julian Edelman isn’t wasting time as he moves on from his strong season-opening performance. He quickly shifted his attention from that game against the Buffalo Bills to the next one against the New York Jets just four days later.
The New England Patriots need his focus to be sharp – and his body to be healthy – as they deal with a growing number of injuries to players who Tom Brady wants to get the ball to. So the wide receiver isn’t worrying about the short time the team has to prepare.
“It affects us the same as it affects the Jets,” Edelman said yesterday. “The more time we think about that, the less time we’re preparing.”
The Patriots will be without leading rusher Shane Vereen tomorrow after he was placed on injured reserve yesterday with a designation to return. He must miss eight games and would be eligible to play on Nov. 18 against the Carolina Panthers. He broke his left wrist in the opener and had surgery Monday, Fox Sports reported.
The third-year running back was the dual threat Coach Bill Belichick hoped he could be when he rushed for 101 yards and gained 58 more on seven catches in a 23-21 win over the Bills Sunday in Buffalo.
Vereen tweeted yesterday, “Thank you all for the well wishes n prayers means a lot n makes me feel all warm inside lol.. ‘Ill be back!’”
His loss likely means Stevan Ridley will return as the backfield workhorse.
Vereen received extra playing time against the Bills after Ridley was benched when he fumbled while cutting in the second quarter. Buffalo’s Da’Norris Searcy returned the ball 74 yards for a touchdown.
“I’ve talked to Stevan,” Belichick said. “Look, every player has the same responsibility every week: to be ready to play, to be ready to go. That’s their job. They can’t control coaches’ decisions. They can control their preparation. They control their performance when they’re in the game.
“That’s what a player’s job is.”
The Patriots have only one other healthy running back, LeGarrette Blount. Two others were limited in walkthroughs on Monday and yesterday, Brandon Bolden with a knee injury and Leon Washington with a thigh injury.
Asked how he plans to handle the loss of Vereen tomorrow, Belichick said, “Whatever players are active for the game, I expect them all to be prepared and ready to play. We’ll see how it all turns out.”
The Patriots also could be thin at wide receiver and tight end.
Against Buffalo, Edelman caught seven passes for 79 yards and two touchdowns as Brady relied on him and Danny Amendola when three rookies – wide receivers Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce and tight end Zach Sudfeld – struggled.
But Amendola, the Patriots’ No. 1 receiver, could miss tomorrow’s game with a groin injury he aggravated in Buffalo. He also participated in the walkthroughs on a limited basis.
“It’s a violent game out there and you’re always one play away,” Edelman said. “It’s not like college, where you have a backup field goal kicker, two different types of kickers, a holder, 14 receivers. Everyone that’s on the (Patriots) is ultimately going to have to contribute some time this season.
“You have to always be prepared for the opportunity.”
Edelman played 83 of 94 snaps Sunday and could be on the field for more if Amendola and rookie Aaron Dobson, who missed the opener with a hamstring injury, don’t play.
That game “is in the past, regardless if you do good or bad,” Edelman said. “I think Tom looks for the open receiver. So I’m just trying to win a route every time and if the ball comes to me it comes to me. If it doesn’t, I’m going to go out and try to make a block or do my job. So I’m not thinking about what Tom’s doing. I’m thinking about what I have to do.”
The Patriots also lack depth at tight end with Michael Hoomanawanui and Matthew Mulligan, re-signed yesterday, the only healthy players at that position. Sudfeld has a hamstring injury and Rob Gronkowski missed the opener after offseason surgery on his back and broken left forearm.
“When people are injured, that’s why you have a deep roster, guys that you have confidence in, that you’ve gained trust in,” Brady said.
With so many rookie receivers, Brady hasn’t had much time to develop that, but he said he has.
“We have a lot of good running backs,” he said. “We have a lot of good receivers.”
Even if some of them are sidelined.
“We’ll see,” he said, “how that all sorts itself out.”