The New England Patriots have dealt with as many injuries as any team in the league this season, if not more. Their two best running backs are out for the year, Rob Gronkowski injured his knee, and Julian Edelman has been out since mid-November.
Personnel changes have occurred all year because of those injuries, and it's caused Tom Brady to lead the makeshift offense. Edelman is expected to return by the time the playoffs begin, but Brady doesn't expect them to return to top form right away. Practice time will be key.
"I think all that's kind of wishful thinking, truthfully," Brady said of the offense not missing a beat when Edelman returns, via Adam Kurkjian of the Boston Herald. "I think all of it requires a lot of practice and all of us being on the same page. The faster everyone can be out there, the better we can be. We'll see how it goes. I don't think there's any way we can predict it other than to deal with it. ... You know, it's going to be a lot of hard work. It's going to be a lot of guys putting effort in. There's just no way to shortcut that."
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Getting Edelman back will obviously help the offense a great deal, but Brady's right about there being somewhat of an adjustment period. They'll need time to get acclimated once again, especially given the number of new faces on offense. The fact that they've already clinched a first-round bye certainly helps, and they're on track to make another deep postseason run.
"I think we've got a lot of football left. We've got a lot of football ahead," Brady said. "We're going to have to continue to raise our level of play and, hopefully, as guys get healthy, that level of play continues to get better. That's kind of what I'm hoping."