Super Bowl LIII MVP Julian Edelman, spotted at his youth camp over the weekend with a small brace on his left thumb, is expected to be sidelined about three weeks with an injury to the finger, league sources told ESPN.
It is uncertain whether Edelman suffered a break or sprain of the thumb while catching a pass, but regardless, New England now will be down another offensive weapon when training camp opens this week.
With veterans set to report on Wednesday, the Patriots will be without Edelman, retired tight end Rob Gronkowski and currently suspended wide receiver Josh Gordon, all while running back Sony Michel and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas open camp on the physically unable to perform list.
The injuries should lead to extended work for a young Patriots wide receiver group that includes 2019 first-round draft pick N'Keal Harry, Phillip Dorsett, 2018 draft choice Braxton Berrios, Maurice Harris and Dontrelle Inman. They should be in line for plenty of reps while the veteran Edelman recovers.
Edelman, 33, wore gloves over both of his hands at his youth camp this weekend, but the bulge of a small brace or splint over his left thumb was noticeable.
"I'm extremely excited for the new year. This is a new team," Edelman said at his camp. "With training camp coming up, this is kind of like when school is back in session. We had summer break. You get to see all the fellas, and this is where you learn your team, learn each other and become accountable for each other, and create a consistency together. This is like the beginning shape form of your team, these next few weeks. It's a crucial point. You put a lot of hard work in during the spring and it's the next step until you're playing with other teams. "
Edelman, who signed a new three-year deal this offseason, will once again be a focal point of the passing game upon his return.
ESPN's Mike Reiss contributed to this report.