On Friday, the New England Patriots were dealt a huge blow when wide receiver Julian Edelman suffered a non-contact knee injury in a preseason game against the Detroit Lions. Sources quickly confirmed that Edelman would be out for the season with a torn ACL.
Patriots WR Julian Edelman tore his ACL, as @AlbertBreer reported. Team's worst fears confirmed.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 26, 2017
Football is predicated on a “next man up” philosophy, and for the Patriots, that replacement could be Austin Carr. Although Carr signed as an undrafted free agent after a breakout senior year at Northwestern, he could find himself in a role very quickly after impressive performances throughout training camp and preseason.
Austin Carr (@ayeseeme) TD. All 32 teams passed on him for 7 rounds. @Patriots went #Patriots, signed him right away pic.twitter.com/FMI7iODO58— Jeff Eisenband (@JeffEisenband) August 11, 2017
Edelman’s injury does not guarantee Carr a roster spot, but Carr’s chances of making the team have just increased dramatically. The Patriots need a new fifth receiver, and Carr’s skillset perfectly fills in the void left behind by Edelman. Like Edelman, Carr is an undersized slot receiver who runs really good routes and can make tough catches in the middle of the field and in traffic. There’s a reason the Patriots were so eager to snap up Carr after he went undrafted.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Patriots back-end receiver depth is thin. Veteran Andrew Hawkins was on the Patriots’ practice squad, but he announced his retirement earlier this year. The Pats still have Devin Lucien, who spent most of the season on the practice squad last season. In preseason, Lucien has had 4 catches for 40 yards. Carr has caught 11 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. If Carr could throw in one more solid preseason performance, the spot could be his.
The Patriots still have Danny Amendola, another effective slot receiver, and they traded for Brandin Cooks (formerly of the Saints) in the offseason. Rob Gronkowski, Chris Hogan, and James White are also still with the team. The Patriots could also make a trade for a wide receiver, but it’s certainly worth giving Carr a shot as an in-house replacement. Whatever the case, Tom Brady will have no shortage of targets to throw to in 2017-18, despite Edelman’s injury. Hopefully, Austin Carr will have a chance to contribute for the Patriots as well.