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New England Patriots

Oct 21, 2018; Chicago, IL, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (11) takes the field before the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. (Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports)

By Matt Dolloff,

The Patriots are starting 2019 training camp with a few key pieces on the shelf. One of them is their most important wide receiver, reigning Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman.

As reported by Adam Schefter, Edelman is expected to miss “about three weeks” with an injury to his left thumb. Ian Rapoport described the ailment as “mild trauma”.

Edelman’s absence at training camp slides everyone else up the active depth chart and opens an opportunity for on-the-bubble inside receivers to prove themselves. Phillip Dorsett and rookie first-round pick N’Keal Harry are likely to get the most looks from Tom Brady for now, but more targets could be coming in the slot for sophomore receiver Braxton Berrios and free-agent addition Maurice Harris, who had a strong minicamp.

More: Projecting Patriots’ roster at start of training camp

The Patriots also brought in a pair of undrafted inside receivers, Jakobi Meyers out of N.C. State and Ryan Davis out of Auburn, who could be facing increased opportunities out of the slot. On the outside, Dontrelle Inman is expected to be present for the start of camp but Demaryius Thomas is starting on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.

Edelman’s readiness for the season shouldn’t be a concern, as far as his familiarity with Brady and the Patriots offense. When he returns it’ll be like riding a bike. But injuries should be a built-in concern for the 33-year-old Edelman, who’s taken a real beating over the years and doesn’t figure to get any more durable later in his career.

His absence will make the Patriots’ uncertain receiver depth chart much more intriguing over the course of camp and the preseason. It’s one of many questions facing the Super Bowl champs as they get ready for 2019.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at