BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots won’t have Julian Edelman this weekend when they take on the Bills in a must-win tilt in Buffalo, but head coach Bill Belichick is confident that the receiver will be back in action later this season.
Edelman has been dealing with a knee injury since the season began and underwent surgery on Thursday. Belichick said Friday that he doesn’t believe the injury is of the season-ending variety.
“We’ll see how the return goes. I don’t think this is a season-ending situation, but we’ll see. I’m not a doctor. Hopefully, he’ll be back,” Belichick told reporters on his Friday morning video conference. “He’s worked really hard. Nobody is more competitive than Julian is. He’ll do everything he can to be back out there. He’ll just take it day-by-day.
“Hopefully he’ll have a good recovery and be back better than he was before the surgery,” added Belichick. “That’s the whole point of doing the surgery.”
Edelman has just 21 catches for a team-high 315 yards on the season, with the bulk of that production coming during an eight-catch, 179-yard performance against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2. He had just eight catches in the four games since that career game in Seattle, and was targeted just three times in last week’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers, catching one of those targets.
With N’Keal Harry (concussion) also likely out for Sunday’s game, that will leave Cam Newton with just Damiere Byrd, Gunner Olszewski, Jakobi Meyers and practice squad receiver Isaiah Zuber at receiver against Buffalo.
“Whatever opportunity [Edelman’s injury] provides for someone else, hopefully that player can take advantage of that opportunity and be productive. We’ll see how that goes,” said Belichick.
Kristian Wilkerson and Mason Kinsey are also on the practice squad, but Zuber was active for three straight weeks against the Las Vegas Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos this month, and will likely be brought up from the practice squad for Sunday’s game. Zuber, who went undrafted out of Mississippi State, has one catch for 16 yards this season.
“Zuber is the most experienced of those players having been here in training camp,” Belichick said Friday. “Having a better background and understanding of what we’re doing. Wilkerson and Kinsey have been here for a while too so they’re certainly gaining on that. Zuber has good size, good skill, runs well, catches well has made some plays with the ball in his hands. We’ll see.”
Tune in to Sunday’s Patriots-Bills matchup on WBZ-TV! Pregame coverage begins at 11:30 a.m. with Patriots GameDay, kickoff is set for 1 p.m., and after the game stay tuned for full reaction and analysis on Patriots 5th Quarter!