By Brent Schwartz, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) – Even though he’ll miss the entirety of the 2017 season, some of Julian Edelman’s teammates on the receiver depth chart say he will continue to help the Patriots off the field.
Edelman has been on the Patriots since 2009, but became Brady’s main target during the 2013 season, after Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez left the team. Since then, Edelman has evolved into a veteran leader and has developed quite a rapport with Brady and the Patriots’ offensive scheme.
“He was the leader of our room,” Chris Hogan said of Edelman on Monday. “He’s a guy that people look to. He helped me a lot. Coming in last year as a first-year player in this team and offense, he was a guy I looked to for answers, and we’ll continue to do that.”
After Edelman went down, Hogan caught two touchdown passes from Tom Brady in the Patriots’ 30-28 preseason win over the Lions.
Danny Amendola, one of Edelman’s best friends on and off the field, echoed Edelman’s importance as a team leader.
“I’m going to miss him every day in the locker room,” Amendola said. “He’ll be around. He’s a leader on this team. He’s one of the strongest people I know.”
Heading into 2017, the Patriots now have a new main target at wide receiver in Brandin Cooks. The former Saints wideout has gotten to know Edelman over this offseason since joining the Patriots. But Cooks insists all the team can do now is move forward.
“I think we’re surrounded by great leaders, including the coaching staff,” Cooks said. “Just have to do your job, do what’s expected, and everything else will take care of itself.”
Cooks, along with Hogan, Amendola and even Rob Gronkowki, will have to step up on the field to replace Edelman’s annual receiving production this season. But No. 11 can still have a profound effect on the team from the sidelines.