FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots star wide receiver Julian Edelman will miss the 2017 season after tearing the ACL in his right knee in a preseason game.
The Patriots announced Saturday that Edelman, Tom Brady’s favorite target and one of the NFL’s most clutch receivers, would be sidelined all season after the non-contact injury in the first quarter of Friday night’s preseason game at Detroit.
The 31-year-old Edelman headed downfield after a catch and when he planted his right foot into the turf, he tore the ligament.
Edelman, whose spectacular fourth-quarter reception helped the Patriots’ record comeback win in the Super Bowl in February, signed a two-year contract extension earlier this year. He has been, by far, Brady’s top pass catcher with 436 receptions over the past four seasons, including the playoffs.
A quarterback in college at Kent State, Edelman joined the Patriots in 2009 and became one of Brady’s most reliable receivers the next year. Last season was one of his best with 98 catches for 1,106 yards. He’s also a dangerous punt returner.
Brady used the word “Gladiator” on Instagram in reference to Edelman.
Fortunately for New England, it is deep at receiver after trading for Brandin Cooks. It gets back Rob Gronkowski, the NFL’s most-feared tight end, from a back injury, and has Chris Hogan, who emerged last year as a quality wideout. Veteran Danny Amendola figures to see time in the slot with Edelman sidelined.
New England also cut defensive end Kony Ealy, whom it acquired in a trade with Carolina in March. It was a surprising move — if anything Bill Belichick does with his roster can be considered surprising.
Ealy, 25, spent three seasons with the Panthers and was best known for having three sacks in Super Bowl 50 against Denver.
Chiefs’ Ware out indefinitely
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Chiefs coach Andy Reid floated the idea not long ago that he might keep his top four running backs when trimming the roster to 53 players next weekend.
That may not be such a difficult decision now.
The Chiefs could be without top running back Spencer Ware for the first portion of the season after he hurt his right knee in Friday night’s preseason game in Seattle. The initial diagnosis was a sprain but Ware was due for an MRI exam Saturday amid reports he injured one of his ligaments.
If that’s the case, he could miss anywhere from several weeks to the entire season.
“He gets his MRI today so I think we just have to see on it,” Reid said Saturday. “It’s not one of those things that’s clear-cut, end-of-the-season or I’d tell you. That’s not what it is.”
Ware was hurt early in the Chiefs’ third preseason game, when he tried to fight for a few extra yards on a carry deep in Seattle territory. He immediately grabbed at his right knee while trainers ran onto the field, and he wound up riding a cart to the locker room.
Reid said that Ware was sore Saturday but “you have to go through the whole process here.”
Regardless, he acknowledged that third-round draft pick Kareem Hunt would be first in line to soak up carries. Hunt was poised to begin the season alongside Ware in a one-two punch while Charcandrick West and C.J. Spiller fought for playing time — and perhaps a roster spot — as the third-string running back.
Now it appears West and Spiller will both make the team when rosters are reduced Sept. 2.
“We’ve got Kareem, we’ve got Charcandrick and C.J., so I mean, we’ve always rotated guys and it will be no different in this case,” Reid said. “But (Hunt) would be the next man up, yes.”
The former Toledo standout dazzled the Chiefs the moment he set foot in their practice facility. He was known for his versatility, offering both power and elusiveness as a runner, but has showcased excellent hands and a willingness to block that has already made him a favorite of quarterback Alex Smith.
“Definitely for a young guy, to see him go in and not really blink with that stuff, I sometimes think that’s the hardest thing is protection,” Smith said. “He got a taste of everything the other night, which was good. It was good experience for him.”