With quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski not participating in Patriots OTAs, the young players don’t have the benefit of the examples they set and the leadership they bring. To balance that out, receiver Julian Edelman is back, after a torn ACL wiped out his entire 2017 season.
“Having him out there brings leadership to this team, he brings excitement to this team and he brings an aggressive nature to this team,” Patriots safety Duron Harman recently told Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald. “Having him out here makes the team better.”
“He’s definitely in the category of one of the most competitive players I had as a teammate,” former Patriots running back Kevin Faulk told Guregian. “Man, he was fearless. It goes back to a young age when someone tells you that you can’t do something. He’s had that chip on his shoulder for a long time.”
The Patriots will need that chip during the season, given that both Danny Amendola and Brandin Cooks are gone. For now, they’re benefiting from the leadership that Edelman brings, especially with two of the teams other great leaders not around to provide some of their own.
And that really is the biggest impact on the team from the absence of Brady and Gronkowski. Even though they arguably don’t need the reps, the young players who are learning how to do things the right way don’t have the ability to watch them and learn.
But at least the young players can watch Edelman.