Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 12/4/12
As Julian Edelman crutched his way out of the locker room at Sun Life Stadium on Sunday evening, the Patriots already slim receiving corps grew even thinner. Edelman joined Rob Gronkowski on the shelf, leaving the Patriots with just six receiving options, between tight end and wide receiver. Even worse, the injury left Tom Brady with just three healthy wide receivers on the active roster. The absence of Deion Branch to a hamstring ailment and recent release of Greg Salas, who was signed by the Eagles, seem to be more than just minor losses now. Fortunately for the Patriots, an old friend was prepared to link back up at a moment’s notice. Earlier in the season, it was Branch who filled the void on the outside. This time, Donte Stallworth turned out to be the one returning to the Patriots’ sideline. And he should Stallworth, who has been out of work since the Patriots released him during the preseason, has kept himself in shape and was even brought into Gillette Stadium for a workout late last week. This marks Stallworth’s third stint in New England, including the 2007 season and training camp this year, and with that experience he should be prepared to contribute right away. The Patriots have a difficult few weeks ahead, with arguably their toughest stretch of the season over the next two weeks, and they’ll need as many able bodied players as possible ready to make an impact. Edelman has been a steadying presence on offense and special teams of late, scoring four touchdowns (two on offense and two on special team) during the Patriots’ current six-game winning streak. So, without him and Gronk making plays in the passing game, New England will need another player to step up alongside Wes Welker,  Aaron Hernandez, who finally looks healthy, and Brandon Lloyd, who has been essentially a ghost in recent weeks. That’s where Stallworth comes in. He offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels‘ system well enough, having been here for the success of ’07 and becoming reacquainted with it earlier this year. His skill set, as a quick, shifty and versatile receiver, should also help McDaniels keep Edelman’s role in the offense alive. The 32-year-old Stallworth may not be quite as spry as he once was, but with plenty of speed and what Brady can only hope are better hands than he displayed in the preseason — he had a bad case of the drops — he should be a more than capable replacement for the time being. The length of Stallworth’s tenure in New England this time around will depend heavily on his production and ability to fill Edelman’s void. But don’t count on him to be just a short-term plug-in. The extent of Edelman’s injury is unknown, but it appears to be serious. So, with he and Gronk expected to miss at least a few weeks, Stallworth will be an important piece for Brady. Don’t count Branch or old friend Jabar Gaffney, who is battling a lingering injury and a two-game suspension, out of the mix just yet either. A healthy Branch would likely be scooped up at a moment’s notice to provide some depth and insurance — likewise if Gaffney gets things in order. For the time being at least, Stallworth is the one the Patriots will have to lean on. He’s got a prime chance to revive his career, and even if he can only be the player he was in Washington last year that’ll be a big help for the Patriots. Have a question for Luke Hughes? Send it to him via Twitter at @LukeFHughes or send it here.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

LA Kings offer Peter Budaj a professional tryout

Carlos Boozer hoping roster spot opens on playoff team

Starting EJ Manuel not a bad idea for Bills’ third preseason game

Tim Beckman fired by Illinois amid mistreatment allegations

Chip Kelly reveals thought process behind Bradford trade

Charles Barkley on ex-agent: ‘I’d blow his damn brains out’

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Bryce Harper doesn’t seem to care if Nationals make playoffs

Could the Spurs backups make playoffs in the east?

Josh Howard reportedly attempting NBA comeback

Reggie Wayne feels like a rookie with the Patriots

Eric Davis: Jim Harbaugh coddled 49ers off the field

Scherzer gave pricey gifts to catchers on no-hitter, one-hitter

Ballmer declines $60M/yr TV deal, could start streaming service

Nationals forced to re-issue massive bobblehead order

Jay Gruden would like the media to stop calling him fat

Spieth: Could new irons be reason for missed cut at Barclays?

The Opening Drive: Where have all the great UM tailbacks gone?

The 1980s Lakers represent the NBA’s ultimate creation story

The Orioles’ frustrating season

Andy Reid on calling perfect play: 'That’s like a good cheeseburger'

Five greatest NBA players of all-time

Finding signs of life for the Boston Red Sox

Jerry Rice: Adrian Peterson still number one pick in fantasy

Filling the MLB playoff picture: Royals rolling

10 NFL players set for down seasons in 2015

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The Opening Drive: What happened to all the great Michigan tailbacks?

The 1980s Lakers represent the NBA’s ultimate creation story

The Orioles’ frustrating season

Five greatest NBA players of all-time

Finding signs of life for the Red Sox

10 NFL players set for down seasons in 2015

Why NFL preseason games matter

August's winners and losers in sports

How the Chicago Cubs are swinging

Report: Barry Bonds loses collusion case

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker