Fans worried about Julian Edelman’s reported torn ACL injury

The worst fears are starting to be realized for Patriots fans after seeing Julian Edelman leave the field in a game against the Lions with a knee injury.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Edelman suffered what is believed to be a torn ACL, according to sources informed of the injury. The receiver  had an MRI to confirm the diagnosis.

“We’re all hoping for the best,” Tom Brady told reporters after the game. “Hopefully whatever test they have to do come back positively. We’ll try to do our best to kind of lift his spirits if we can and see what happens.”

The latest report from the Patriots camp was that Edelman’s injury has changed the Patriots’ offensive game.

In that game, Edelman limped from the field after suffering the non-contact injury on an 18-yard catch and run. He briefly spent time in the sideline medical tent before being carted to the locker room. The wideout was seen being carted to the team bus with crutches at the end of the Patriots’ 30-28 win over the Detroit Lions.

Watch how it happened:

The injury is a tough blow for Brady’s favorite target. Edelman was eating up Lions defenders, catching three passes for 53 yards on the opening drive before the injury.

Diagram of knee

The 32-year-old receiver has been Brady’s most reliable target for years. Edelman has earned more than nine targets per game over the last four seasons and has averaged more than 11 yards per catch the past five years. He is coming off a career-high 1,106-yard 2016 season.

Edelman signed a two-year, $11 million contract with $7 million guaranteed before this offseason, per Rapoport.

Edelman’s injury is a blow, but the Patriots do boast depth at receiver. The team traded for speedster Brandin Cooks this offseason, while Danny Amendola and Malcolm Mitchell move up the depth chart. Chris Hogan, however, will likely be the player seeing a boost in action following Edelman’s injury. Hogan had a monster game Friday and was in line for a big role even when Edelman was healthy. After the injury, we could see Hogan move into the slot more in 2017.

Beyond receivers, the Patriots do a better job than any team deploying multifaceted offenses to cover deficiencies. The tight end duo of Rob Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen could both see a bump in slot snaps. The Pats also have a bevy of backs in Dion Lewis, James White and Rex Burkhead who can split out in pass-catching roles.

Photo by Jeffrey Beall

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