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Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman focused on “playing football at a high level”, not upcoming four-game suspension

The veteran is coming off a season-long stint on injured reserve.

NFL: New England Patriots-Training Camp Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

When the New England Patriots kick off their 2018 regular season, Julian Edelman will not be part of the opening day lineup for the second straight year. But while he missed last year’s season opener because of a torn ACL he suffered just two weeks earlier, the veteran wide receiver will be out for a different reason when New England hosts the Houston Texans on September 9: Edelman is suspended for the first four games of the season.

With training camp underway, he spoke with reporters for the first time since the NFL banned him for violating its policy on performance-enhancing substances. Edelman, who tried to appeal the league’s decision to no avail, knows that the blame lies solely with himself (via NBC Boston): “I’m accountable for my actions,” New England’s most experienced wide receiver said after Saturday’s practice.

“Obviously you’re disappointed with it, but I gotta follow the protocols a little better and make sure this never happens again,” Edelman continued before pointing out that he is not worried about his suspension at the moment and instead is trying to fully concentrate on working on his craft during training camp. “Ultimately my focus now is getting my knee right,” he said. “And going out and playing football at a high level.”

Before his injury during last August’s preseason game against the Detroit Lions, Edelman was doing just that. Coming off one of the most productive seasons of his eight-year career – and one that earned him his second Super Bowl ring –, Tom Brady’s most trusted wide receiver was poised to play a big role in New England’s passing offense yet again. However, his season came to a crashing end on Detroit’s Ford Field.

Since then, Edelman has been working on his return. Along the way, however, he apparently overstepped the NFL’s boundaries on performance enhancers. What exactly happened that led to the four-game ban is shrouded in mystery and will likely never come to light. But this would not be New England if – put on your tinfoil hats! – Tom Brady’s body coach, Alex Guerrero, was not somehow linked to the whole saga.

Edelman, when asked about his relationship with Guerrero, reiterated that his focus lies solely on football: “What’s in the past is in the past,” the 32-year old said. “I love Alex. But ultimately I’m about just going out here and playing football. I’m not here to talk about... make a headline on something. Just here playing football, buddy.”

The veteran has been doing just that since the first day of training camp; Edelman has been a full participant the whole time – and one that looked good when on the practice fields. However, he refrained from saying that he already is at the point where he wants to be: “There’s things here and there you gotta work. There’s some things that feel great. There’s some things I gotta work and that’s why you have training camp.”

Edelman continued speaking about how he needs to approach his first camp since his knee injury: “Going in and being able to block, pushing and really cutting off your leg into someone else. That’s what this is for. It’s for building your fundamentals, especially coming off of injury, a season not playing. I have to really take this seriously and critique everything 110 percent to ultimately get ready for my season.”

“It’s to go out here, especially for me to go out and develop my fundamentals again and learn how to cut on my knee right and go out and work on the strengthening of that and building confidence with constant repetition,” Edelman said. “That’s where I’m at. You know how it goes, it’s major surgery. We all know that. But I’m confident to go out and compete and that’s the exciting thing about it.”