Edelman might talk more trash in practice than he does in games

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Edelman might talk more trash in practice than he does in games

FOXBORO -- Julian Edelman's mouth seems to get as much of a workout as his legs do on game days.

Multiple times a game, it seems, the Patriots receiver can be seen jawing with someone in opposing colors -- players or coaches. In Week 16 he bumped into a Jets staffer on the visitor's sideline at Gillette Stadium. In Week 17, he was called for an unsportsmanlike penalty after trying to head-butt a Dolphins defensive back. 

As fiery as Edelman can be on Sundays, he might be even more on edge in practice, according to Patriots corner Logan Ryan. 

"Practice might be worse because there’s no refs out there," Ryan said. "Practice gets a little crazy."

In training camp, when members of the media are allowed to watch entire Patriots on-the-field workouts, it not uncommon to see Edelman going all-out when matched up against someone like Ryan or Malcolm Butler or Patrick Chung. Ryan explained that those types of battles extend into the rest of the year. 

Particularly when Edelman is involved.

"Julian’s a guy who’s never going to give up, and he’s the ultimate competitor. It’s not about trash talk. It’s just how he plays. He might spin the ball on top of you or something . . . He’s just real disrespectful at times," Ryan joked. "Probably more disrespectful than some of the other ones. I’m happy he’s on my team."

"Does he say that? We have fun," Edelman acknowledged when reporters informed him of Ryan's comments. "Don’t let him say that he doesn’t do anything if thinks he gets a ball or knocks a ball down. Nah, it’s all fun and games out there. Going out and getting to compete against Logan, Malc, [Eric] Rowe, [Jonathan] Jones, [Devin] McCourty, [Duron Harmon]. All those guys. 

"It’s a competitive environment and iron sharpens iron, so it’s fun to go out there and compete with them."

Edelman finished with a career-high 1,106 yards this season after playing in all 16 regular-season games for the second time in his career (2013). 

Report: Brady expected to play Saturday night vs. Texans, but not Gronk

Report: Brady expected to play Saturday night vs. Texans, but not Gronk

Tom Brady and other Patriots starters are expected to make their preseason debuts Saturday in the second preseason game vs. the Texans in Houston, but Rob Gronkowski won't play, Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reports.

Gronkowski, recovering from back surgery performed late last season, hasn't played in a preseason game since 2012. 

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Brady and new acquisitions Brandin Cooks at wide receiver and Mike Gillislee at running back, along with wide receiver Julian Edelman and other starters, did not play in the Patriots' preseason opener against the Jaguars last week in Foxboro. The Patriots and Texans have been conducting joint practices at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia and Howe reports the plan all week has been to have the starters participate in the game Saturday night.

Of course, Bill Belichick reserves the right to change those plans. 

The Pats will return to the site of their last victory, NRG Stadium in Houston, where New England won Super Bowl 51 over the Falcons in February, to play the Texans. 

Freeney among available options if Patriots looking for pass-rush help

Freeney among available options if Patriots looking for pass-rush help

For years, the Patriots have schemed to keep Dwight Freeney away from Tom Brady. Might they be interested in making him Brady's teammate?

With the news coming down on Friday that rookie third-round pick Derek Rivers may have suffered a season-ending knee injury, it was just the latest hit to an edge group that was already hurting for numbers.

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The Patriots lost Rob Ninkovich to retirement early in training camp. They lost rookie defensive end Deatrich Wise for a to-be-determined period of time to a head injury suffered during last week's preseason game with the Jaguars. They lost Shea McClellin to an apparent injury earlier this month that has kept him out for almost two weeks.

So what's next? Here are some of the options . . .

IMMEDIATE HELP FROM OUTSIDE THE ORGANIZATION

Bill Belichick and his staff could look outside the organization for help right away via free agency or trade. Freeney, who recorded seven quarterback hurries and a sack in Super Bowl LI, is available as a free agent. Former Dolphins, Bills and Texans defensive end Mario Williams -- who Belichick and director of player personnel Nick Caserio have happily referred to as "Big M" over the years -- is also without a team at the moment. Both of those players, 37 and 32 years old, respectively, could serve as stop-gap options. ESPN's Mike Reiss noted on Friday that perhaps Ninkovich could come out of retirement to help the club. 

Then there's the possibility of the trade. The Patriots are annually among the league's most aggressive teams in terms of looking for deals to help their roster, and this year figures to be no different. They have plenty in the way of draft capital if they decide to continue their recent trend of parting ways with picks for proven players in return. There are also valuable pieces on their roster who could end up elsewhere if the return is right. Of those, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and corner Malcolm Butler -- both in contract years -- would figure to be among their most valuable potential trade chips.

TAKE A WAIT-AND-SEE APPROACH

With only one cutdown deadline this year -- teams will have their rosters trimmed from 90 players to 53 following the last week of the preseason -- chaos figures to reign as teams scour the waiver wire for both active-roster and practice-squad help. Clubs could steadily make their releases in the days leading up to the deadline, but the expectation is that there will still be a tsunami of cuts that take place in a very short span. The Patriots are already preparing for the well over 1,000 players who will eventually become available, taking an all-hands-on-deck approach in the scouting and personnel departments. Perhaps as things get hectic right around the deadline, capable edge help will become available. If it does, don't be surprsied to see the Patriots pounce. 

GO WITH WHAT THEY HAVE

The Patriots could choose to simply roll with what's on the roster for 2017. Their front-seven is loaded with versatile defensive linemen and linebackers who can play a variety of positions. Linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Harvey Langi have seen time on the edge in recent practices. Trey Flowers should be a staple on the edge when he's not being used as an interior rusher. Lawrence Guy is more of an interior force and seems to be ideally used as a five-technique, but he played all along the defensive line in Baltimore and could have some positional versatility in New England. Kony Ealy has started to show some things as a pass-rusher of late. And undrafted rookie defensive lineman Adam Butler -- who saw time everywhere from nose tackle to stand-up edge-rusher during training camp -- is an intriguing young prospect. 

The Patriots situation on the edge is far from ideal at the moment, and they could try to remedy their issues quickly with some outside help. But if they choose to stand pat, they do have options.