FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Speaking for the first time at the Patriots’ minicamp, Tom Brady could have had plenty to talk about had he waited a few hours.
Instead, reports broke later Thursday that one of the New England quarterback’s favorite receivers, Julian Edelman, could be suspended for violating the league’s performance-enhancers policy.
Brady, who turns 41 on Aug. 3, said he never considered retirement during his time away from the team; he did not attend optional workouts. He was not available to address an ESPN report, using unnamed sources, that Edelman, who missed the 2017 season after tearing his right ACL in a preseason game in Detroit, is facing a four-game suspension.
Edelman was the last player on the field for practice and later could be seen having a long talk with Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
According to the report, the 32-year-old Edelman is appealing the suspension, saying he had passed “hundreds of tests” in the past. If the suspension stands, he would miss a home game against Houston, at Jacksonville and Detroit, and home against Miami.
The league does not release information on suspensions until they are announced.
Edelman spoke Tuesday and was asked if it was difficult not to push himself to make a faster recovery.
“Yeah, I mean, everyone’s a competitor, so sometimes you’re your worst own enemy when you’re trying to do that,” he said. “But it is what it is and there’s a big part of the process and I’ve got a lot of guys, training staff helping me out – TB12 (Brady), all that stuff – to get to where I want to be.”
The Patriots’ wide receiver group had already taken on a new look minus Danny Amendola (free agent, Miami) and Brandin Cooks (traded to Arizona). The loss of Edelman would thin the position even more. Malcolm Mitchell, who also missed last season with knee surgery, has yet to return to the field.
The depth chart candidates without Edelman would have one proven veteran in Chris Hogan, plus Mitchell, Kenny Britt, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jordan Matthews, Phillip Dorsett, Riley McCarron, Braxton Berrios and Cody Hollister. Special teams captain Matthew Slater has also lined up at the position, and Patterson generally is a kick returner rather than a wideout.
Brady spoke for less than four minutes.
“It’s obviously important for everybody and our coaches do a great job of getting us ready,” he said. “Just some personal reasons for me (skipping voluntary workouts), but I’m here now and focused on what I need to do, like I always am, and this year.”
Amid reports of a rift in the organization involving himself, coach Bill Belichick and Kraft, Brady said his relationship with Belichick is, “great. We’ve always had a great relationship.”
“I’ve been here for a long time and I love this team and I love this organization and I love playing quarterback for him,” Brady added. “I loved it last year and I’m having a lot of fun now, so that’s obviously what’s most important to me.”
He refused to speak about any possible reworking of his contract.
“I’ve never talked about my contract,” he said. “I’ve never brought up money, I think for a lot of reasons that I’ve said over the years. Those things are personal.”
Brady labeled his offseason following the Super Bowl loss to Philadelphia as “good.”
“I always try to figure out different things I need to do in the offseason to prepare myself and be the best I can be,” he said. “Obviously, I evaluate last season and things I can do better. I don’t think this offseason was any different for me. I thought about the things I need to do and focused on those things so I can be the best I can be when training camp comes.”
NOTES: Red Sox vice president Tony La Russa was a visitor at camp. “We’ve been friends for a long time. It’s always good to see Tony,” said Belichick. . TE Dwayne Allen was clearly hobbling after practice. . Belichick stepped in and was mad at his offense, ordering the group to run a lap around the field. Brady, who could be heard yelling an obscenity after the previous play, then hit Rob Gronkowski with the next pass. . Matthews dropped a long throw from Brady. . Thursday was the third and final day of the mandatory camp, with four optional days set for next week.
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