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The New England Patriots have struggled to find a groove offensively in recent weeks, and it’s not likely to happen soon with their star wide receiver set to miss some time. Julian Edelman had surgery on Thursday to repair his injured knee and will be out indefinitely.

His specific timetable for return isn’t yet known, but Edelman will most likely miss at least a game or two. His absence will be a brutal blow to an offense that looked anemic even with Edelman in the lineup.

Julian Edelman is the only established WR in New England

The Patriots started the 2020 season 2-1 with two dominating wins. Cam Newton looked like his old MVP self, and general managers across the league were kicking themselves for letting Bill Belichick scoop up the QB on the cheap.

But things have gone downhill ever since the Pats’ strong start. New England has now lost three games in a row, and it was bludgeoned 33-6 by the San Francisco 49ers last week.

The passing offense is the biggest reason for the Patriots’ recent losing streak, as Newton has lost his ‘A’ game from the first few weeks. New England has only mustered 509 passing yards from its QBs over the last three games combined.

The Patriots also have a glaring lack of talent at the wide receiver position. Edelman is their leading receiver this year with 315 receiving yards. Only two other WRs have recorded over 100 yards through six games. New England ranks 28th in the league in passing offense with 197.2 yards per game.

That number is only going to drop going forward without Edelman on the field.

The Patriots lose their $15.5 million star

Edelman has been dealing with a nagging knee injury for most of the season. He’s played through the pain over the last few weeks, but he just doesn’t look like the same player on the field.

On Thursday morning, Edelman underwent surgery on his injured knee. He’s been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills, but his status moving forward remains up in the air.

It wasn’t a major surgery or a season-threatening procedure, but Edelman is expected to miss “some period of time,” according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

The Patriots have two straight divisional matchups and a date with the Baltimore Ravens next up on the schedule. New England could easily be sitting at 3-6 more than halfway through the season.

How will the Patriots replace Edelman?

Edelman has been the most productive wide receiver for New England all season, but they’ll have to survive without him for possibly the next few weeks.

Damiere Byrd immediately steps into the No. 1 spot on the outside. Byrd has 233 receiving yards on 28 targets so far this season.

The Edelman injury could actually be a blessing and disguise for second-year WR N’Keal Harry, who has failed to find his footing in the New England offense so far. Harry was a first-round pick in 2019, but he hasn’t lived up to the hype quite yet. He’ll have all the opportunity in the world to prove he belongs in this offense with Edelman out.

Besides Byrd and Harry, the Patriots will rely on Jakobi Meyers, Isaiah Zuber, and their throng of young tight ends to step up in Edelman’s absence. Expect a run-heavy approach from Belichick and company in the coming weeks.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference