Patriots fans have been worried about what the absence of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski at OTAs means for the team heading into 2018. While that question is still waiting to be answered, Pats fans did get one very pleasant surprise: the return of the Flying Squirrel himself, Julian Edelman.
The Patriots star receiver is returning from a torn ACL suffered in the Patriots third preseason game last year against the Detroit Lions. Edelman missed the entire 2017 campaign while he recovered from surgery and began his rehab. While Edelman has been working out vigorously over the past few months, this is the first time that we have seen him back in a helmet and cleats on a football field.
Edelman has looked healthy and confident in his work this week, making cuts and breaks in his routes with little to no noticeable hesitation. His speed and quickness also look to be returning. While the pace of practice is certainly more relaxed this week than it will be in late July and August, it is still impressive to see Edelman working at the same rate as everyone else.
The biggest issue for the Super Bowl hero is not necessarily going to be the physical limitations of the injury. He is over eight months removed from the injury and has been medically cleared to be playing at full capacity. Many say that it takes 12 to 16 months to fully recover from an ACL tear – that is, getting back to playing exactly how you did before the injury. However, people also said it would be impossible to come back from an ACL injury in six months and run the football for 2000 yards the next season, but Adrian Peterson did that anyways. Edelman will very likely be physically fine. The issue will be whether he can mentally overcome the injury. Suffering a torn ACL can have a hard psychological toll because as an athlete you move forward constantly worried about tearing it again. It is made even worse if the injury occurred during a movement that you make all the time, such as it was with Edelman with a strong open-field cut. Brady’s top target will need to battle these mental demons and have the confidence that he can return to top form and not have to worry about re-injuring himself.
It will not be an easy re-introduction to football speed for Edelman. However, the former Kent State quarterback turned undrafted free agent turned wide receiver turned Super Bowl hero is one of the hardest workers that Patriots fans have been exposed to over the last decade. If anyone can return at peak condition, it’s number 11.
Until next time – B$