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Patriots' Julian Edelman out for season with torn ACL

New England's worst fears have been realized. Julian Edelman is done for the season.

An MRI on Saturday revealed that Edelman indeed suffered an ACL tear in his right knee during Friday's preseason win over the Lions, a source informed of the situation told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. The Patriots confirmed their Super Bowl hero will miss the 2017 season.

The MMQB's Albert Breer first reported the news.

"Great competitor, works hard, tough, does all the things that you ask him to do," coach Bill Belichick said about Edelman on a conference call Saturday, via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. "I feel badly for him of course."

Edelman went down on a non-contact play as he was scampering through the secondary on his third catch of the opening drive, and then limped off the field. He was later carted to the locker room and did not return.

The 32-year-old receiver has been Brady's most reliable target for years. Edelman has earned more than nine targets per game over the last four seasons and has averaged more than 11 yards per catch the past five years. He is coming off a career-high 1,106-yard 2016 season. Edelman signed a two-year, $11 million contract with $7 million guaranteed before this offseason.

As far as injuries to New England's offense go, this one hurts, but doesn't derail the train as much as a sidelined Rob Gronkowski or -- heavens forbid -- Tom Brady would. The plug-and-play nature of the Patriots' attack should facilitate an easy transition in the slot from Edelman to Danny Amendola or one of New England's 63 pass-catching running backs.

Chris Hogan, new acquisition Brandin Cooks and the Patriots' tight ends should be the greatest beneficiaries of Edelman's absence. Hogan and Cooks are suddenly New England's go-to receivers and will be expected to replace, in tandem, Edelman's nearly 100 receptions from last season. Gronkowski and former Colts tight end Dwayne Allen should see increased targets on third-down conversions.

Edelman's absence will change how New England attacks the season and opposing defenses, but as long as No. 12 is under center, dreams of Super Bowl glory should not and will not be abandoned.

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