Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts
FOXBOROUGH – New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will see a familiar face re-enter the huddle as trusted wideout Julian Edelman returns from a four-game suspension for Thursday’s game against the visiting Indianapolis Colts. Edelman, who was banned for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing substances policy, rolled up a career-best 1,106 receiving yards in 2016 before a preseason knee injury caused him to miss the 2017 campaign.
“I know he was itching to go and he wants to get down there and show everyone that he’s ready to go,” said Brady, who struggled to find chemistry with his wide receivers in the first three contests before former Colt Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson each reeled in a touchdown reception in a 38-7 romp over Miami on Sunday. A three-time NFL Most Valuable Player, Brady ranks outside the top 20 in completion percentage (64.4 percent; 21st among QBs), passing yards per game (230; 24th) and yards per attempt (6.8; tied for 27th). Colts quarterback Andrew Luck rebounded from a pair of subpar performances to complete 40 of 62 passes for 464 yards and four touchdowns in Sunday’s 37-34 overtime setback to Houston. Luck, however, owns an 0-5 career mark versus New England and has completed just 48 percent of his pass attempts and thrown nine interceptions in three games at Foxborough, Mass.
TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, FOX, NFL Network. LINE: Patriots -10. O/U: 51.5
ABOUT THE COLTS (1-3): Luck likely is to be without star wideout T.Y. Hilton (chest, hamstring) on Thursday and will look to distribute the ball to a wide receiver corps considering of Ryan Grant, Chester Rogers and Zach Pascal. The former top overall pick has found a convenient outlet in running back Nyhiem Hines (team-leading 22 catches), who led the club with nine receptions for 63 yards and two touchdowns last week. Eric Ebron has made the most of fellow tight end Jack Doyle’s absence due to injury by reeling in a team-leading three touchdown receptions in his last four games. Indianapolis has gotten next-to-nil from its 29th-ranked ground game, however, with Jordan Wilkins leading the club with just 136 rushing yards.
ABOUT THE PATRIOTS (2-2): While Edelman is guaranteed to be in the huddle, Rob Gronkowski isn’t a slam dunk to be by his side as the mammoth tight end deals with an ankle injury. The 29-year-old Gronkowski, who reportedly was absent from Tuesday’s walk-through, leads the Patriots with 233 receiving yards in four games and his 17 catches are second on the team to versatile running back James White. Speaking of running backs, Sony Michel answered a pair of lackluster performances with a stellar one on Sunday, as he rushed 25 times for 112 yards and a touchdown. Michel became the second Patriots running back to eclipse 100 yards rushing in a game since 2016 — joining Dion Lewis, who did it twice in 2017.
1. Indianapolis K Adam Vinatieri, a former Patriots legend, is nursing a sore groin and did not practice on Tuesday.
2. New England CB Stephon Gilmore shares the team lead with four passes defensed, although he doesn’t have one in ether of his last two games.
3. Colts rookie LB Darius Leonard has an NFL-best 54 tackles while LB Kyle Van Noy leads the Patriots with just 20.