Julian Edelman figures to be Brady's primary target against Jets
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- You have to wonder what Gisele Bündchen thinks of the Patriots' receiving corps now. The supermodel famously complained after the Pats' Super Bowl loss to the Giants two seasons ago that her husband, Tom Brady, couldn't pass the ball and catch it, too.
She was referring to a critical drop by Wes Welker. But Bündchen, her husband and Patriots fans now must surely miss Welker, who signed with Denver as a free agent. Brady pulled out a win in the opener at Buffalo, completing 29 of 52 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns, but 17 of those completions went to players who will miss Thursday night's game against the Jets at Gillette Stadium.
Danny Amendola, a free agent signed to replace Welker, caught 10 passes at Buffalo but is listed as doubtful with a groin injury. Running back Shane Vereen, who had seven catches, is on injured reserve with a wrist injury. That leaves fifth-year wide receiver Julian Edelman as the most reliable receiver in Brady's arsenal.
As a rookie in 2009, Edelman stepped in for an injured Welker and caught eight passes for 98 yards in a 16-9 loss to the Jets in the second game of that season. "That was a long time ago," Edelman said. "I'm not really thinking about that. It's a whole new defense pretty much. We're a different team. It's completely different circumstances."
Jets coach Rex Ryan recently scoffed at the notion that the Pats' passing game is struggling. He described Amendola and Edelman as "a couple of Wes Welker clones" who can give defenses plenty of trouble.
Edelman brushed off the compliment, saying, "Wes is a good buddy of mine, and it's unfair to say that for a guy like that who's done it consistently for a long time . . . I'm not trying to replace Welker. I'm out here just trying to do my job. It's what I've done for the past four years."
At Buffalo, Edelman caught seven passes for 79 yards and two touchdowns, but the Jets' coverage likely will focus on him if Amendola can't go. "I'm just preparing like I do every week and knowing every concept that's installed," Edelman said. "When you know the concept, you can do anything."
After Edelman, it's slim pickings for Brady. Rookie wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins started at Buffalo but caught only four of 14 balls thrown to him. Tight end Rob Gronkowski (forearm, back) still is recovering from injuries and is listed as doubtful, and rookie backup tight end Zach Sudfeld (hamstring) is questionable.
One potential new receiver is former Jets running back Leon Washington (thigh), who was inactive last week and is listed as questionable. "Leon has had a lot of reps in our system," Pats coach Bill Belichick said. "He's well-trained relevant to a player that wasn't here."
Still, Edelman figures to be Brady's primary target, even though he resists that notion. "I think Tom looks for the open receiver," Edelman said. "I'm just trying to win a route every time. If the ball comes to me, it comes to me. If it doesn't, I'll try to make a block."