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New England Patriots fans hopes of an undefeated season took a serious blow when Julian Edelman suffered a season ending knee injury Friday night in Detroit.  Edelman’s toughness and determination have made him the most reliable target for quarterback Tom Brady, particularly on third down.  His loss will certainly be felt on the field, both as a slot receiver and a punt returner.  But could the loss of Brady’s favorite target actually make the Patriot’s offense even more dangerous?

If there is any position for which the Patriots could sustain a major injury, it is in the receiver corps.  Returning receivers Edelman, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola and Malcolm Mitchell were joined in the offseason by Brandin Cooks, who was acquired via trade with the New Orleans Saints.  Add tight ends Rob Gronkowski and newcomer Dwayne Allen, along with Super Bowl hero James White and newcomer Rex Burkhead at running back, and there are multiple weapons for Brady to choose from in the passing game.

This plethora of offensive weapons is not only the reason to believe the Patriots will be able to compensate for Edelman’s loss, it could potentially make them an even more dangerous offensive team.  In past seasons, Brady has had a tendency to lock in on Edelman in key situations, especially when Gronkowski has not been on the field.  This was no secret to opposing defenses either.  With Edelman off the field, who, besides Gronkowski, will defenses look to stop in the Patriots offense?  The possibilities are only limited to how fast the new players can learn the intricate Patriots’ offense.

Brady must now accept that his favorite receiver will not be on the field for the 2017 season.  The old saying about Brady was that his favorite receiver is the one that is open.  That changed over the years with the emergence of Edelman and Gronkowski and the lack of skilled receivers at the other positions.  With the talent now available to catch the ball, those days should, and must, return for Brady. 

The Patriots exemplify the “next man up” mentality better than any team in NFL history.  There will be no shedding of tears in Foxborough over this situation.  Head Coach Bill Belichick and Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels were undoubtedly already devising a strategy on the flight back from Detroit.  There may be bumps in the road as the team transitions to life without Edelman, but it will transition.  The talent level on offense is too high to expect anything less.  Opposing NFL coaches should not rest easy, because they literally don’t know what is about to hit them.

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