Edelman’s return gives Patriots a good feeling in win
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — He’s baaaaaaack.
Julian Edelman started and caught a 9-yard pass to start Thursday night’s 38-24 win for the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium vs. the Indianapolis Colts.
He later dropped a wide open pass down the left sideline. But after a half in which the Patriots dominated 24-3, Edelman had three catches for 28 yards, targeted four times by quarterback Tom Brady in the first half, and finished with seven catches for 57 yards.
“It was great,” said Edelman, who besides his four game ban also missed all of last year with a knee injury. “There’s some things that obviously we have to work on but it was good to get out there and catch some rocks and go out and make some plays and be with the fellas.
“I haven’t played football in – I think it was like 405 days or something like that – so it was good to be out there in front of the crowd. They were rocking, they were awesome. Seeing all of them was amazing. So it was just great to be back.”
Edelman was officially activated to the New England roster Thursday afternoon. To make room, the Patriots released running back Kenjon Barner, who was signed late last month for his second stint with the team. The former sixth round pick of the Carolina Panthers out of Oregon in the 2013 draft, Barner has appeared in 44 regular season games.
Last week in the game vs. Miami, Barner had three carries for 11 yards. The move left the Patriots with just two running backs, veteran James White and rookie Sony Michel, for last night’s game with the Colts.
No one was happier to see Edelman, who served a four game suspension for testing positive for PEDs, than Brady, who actually completed his 500th career TD pass not to Edelman but to newcomer Josh Gordon.
“Well, I think we’ve played so much football together,” he said this week. “I really have no doubt where he’s going to be at, what he’s capable of. He’s been a great player for our team … Anytime you add great players, it’s going to help what we’re doing.”
Edelman led the charge in onto the field in his usual spirited fashion as the Patriots emerged from the lockeroom.
With Edelman returning punts, Cyrus Jones, who returned them last week, was inactive last night. Other inactives included defensive ends Geneo Grissom, Derek Rivers and Keionta Davis, guard/center Ted Carras, offensive tackle Cole Croston, and cornerback Eric Rowe.
Karras was inactive in favor of keeping center-guard Brian Schwenke active. Grissom and Rowe have been nursing injuries.
Despite barely practicing the last couple of days with a bad ankle, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski looked good to go in warmups. He was in the starting lineup and caught a 19-yard pass during Patriots’ opening scoring drive. By halftime he had three catches for 26 yards and finished with six catches for 75 yards but also lost the handle on the ball for an Indy interception in the second half.
“I just have to bring that in,” Gronkowski said of that play. “Mistakes like that definitely put the offense down and give the other team a chance. So I just have to correct those mistakes and play hard.”
After Thursday, the Patriots won’t play until a week from Sunday, but again in prime time at Gillette for NBC’s Sunday Night Football vs. the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s the first of two sets of back-to back prime time games for the team this season. After a day game at the Chicago Bears on Oct. 21, New England has a Monday Night game at Buffalo Oct. 29 and back to Gillette for another Sunday Night game vs. Green Bay.