Reports: New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman suspended 4 games, including vs. Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots receiver Julian Edelman (11), is held by the face mask by Dolphins cornerback Tony Lippett (36) as he scores a touchdown in January 2017. (Bill Ingram / The Palm Beach Post)

The Dolphins may have caught a break Thursday amid reports that New England receiver Julian Edelman is facing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy against performance-enhancing drugs — a penalty that would keep him out of the Patriots’ Sept. 30 home game against Miami.

Edelman, 32, missed the 2017 season because of an ACL injury. He also would miss games against the Texans, Jaguars and Lions.

The penalty is being appealed.

In 12 games against Miami, Edelman has victimized the Dolphins more than any other NFL team, recording 731 receiving yards. He also has 55 catches against Miami (most of any team other than the Jets) and five touchdown passes (tied for the most).

The Patriots, of course, still have tight end Rob Gronkowski, who skipped voluntary workouts and is eyeing a new contract, but targets for Tom Brady are wearing thin.

Among the losses this offseason is Danny Amendola, who caught 61 passes for 659 yards in 2017 but was signed by the Dolphins.

Brandin Cooks, who had 1,082 receiving yards, was traded to the Rams.

Running back Dion Lewis, who caught 32 passes for 214 yards, signed with the Titans.

The Patriots still have former Dolphin Chris Hogan, who had 439 yards and five TDs last year, and running back James White, who accounted for 429 receiving yards and three TDs.

Edelman’s absence could benefit former Miami Hurricane Braxton Berrios, selected by New England in the sixth round, 210th overall.

The Patriots also have Malcolm Mitchell, a fourth-rounder who missed last season with a knee injury and also missed some voluntary workouts this summer.

Newcomers also include Jordan Matthews, who had 282 yards for the Bills last year, and Cordarrelle Patterson, the ex-Vikings first-round pick held to 309 yards for the Raiders in 2017.

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New England Patriots Julian Edelman helps stop potential school shooting

Danny Amendola. (Getty Images)

As if Danny Amendola needed any further reminder of how serious to take school security as he moves to South Florida and joins the Dolphins, he received a stark lesson during a visit last month from former New England Patriots teammate Julian Edelman.

The New York Times reported Wednesday afternoon that Edelman was visiting Amendola in Texas when Edelman received a direct message via Instagram.

“Dude, there is a kid in your comment section says he s going to shoot up a school, i think you should alert the authority,” it read.

The threat occurred about five weeks after the tragedy in Parkland, where 17 students and faculty members were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, so Edelman took it seriously, having his assistant in Boston find the threat that read, “I’m going to shoot my school up watch the news.”

His assistant, Shannen Moen, called 911. Officers traced the threat via email and IP addresses to Port Huron, Mich., where police immediately drove to the house and found a 14-year-old boy who admitted posting the threat.

Two rifles belonging to his mother were found, police told The Times.

Police said the threat was directed at the boy’s middle school. He was charged with making a false report of a threat of terrorism, a felony, and faces up to four years in jail. He’s currently in a juvenile-detention center.

Amendola spent five seasons with New England before joining Miami via free agency three weeks ago.

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Patriots WR Julian Edelman, who had best games vs. Miami Dolphins, has ACL tear

New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (11), is held by the face mask by Dolphins cornerback Tony Lippett (36) as he scores a touchdown in January 2017. (Bill Ingram / The Palm Beach Post)

[UPDATE: Julian Edelman has a complete ACL tear, Albert Breer of Monday Morning Quarterback confirmed Saturday.]

The Patriots fear receiver Julian Edelman tore his right ACL in a non-contact incident during Friday night’s game against Detroit, according to multiple reports.

If the worst news proves accurate, it would rob the defending Super Bowl champions of one of their most effective weapons when it comes to playing the Dolphins.

Three times in the past four years, Edelman enjoyed more success against Miami than any other opponent. Although the stats are skewed because Edelman faces division opponents twice, his numbers against Miami nonetheless jump off the page.

Last season, Edelman totaled 15 receptions for 227 yards in two games against the Dolphins, including an eight-catch, 151-yard day at Hard Rock Stadium.

Similar things happened in 2014 and 2013.

In 2014, he had 13 catches for 183 yards and a TD. In ’13, it was 15 catches, 146 yards and a TD. Both yardage totals were his best against any team.

Edelman played only one game against Miami in 2015, when he had seven receptions for 81 yards.

To put it another way: In seven meetings with the Dolphins since 2013, Edelman has 50 catches, 637 yards (91 yards per game) and five touchdowns.

Edelman limped off the field, unassisted, after the play in question, but was taken to the locker room on a cart.

The Patriots relied on ex-Dolphin Chris Hogan, Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola to beat the Lions 30-28, but Edelman’s injury overshadowed all else.

“He’s a player you can’t really replace, the way he works, the way he plays out on the field, the way he loves the game and the passion he has,” tight end Rob Gronkowski said, according to ESPN. “So we’re just hoping for the best.”

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Jarvis Landry and the 10 best slot receivers in the NFL

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry (14) catches a long pass near the goal line in the second quarter at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida on October 16, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry (14) catches a long pass near the goal line in the second quarter at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida on October 16, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

The position of slot receiver requires not only a considerable amount of pass-catching ability and production, but also a ton of durability.

And with Miami Dolphins wideout Jarvis Landry among the league leaders in receptions, we decided to take a look at him and nine other superstars (listed alphabetically) at that position.

Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks

Baldwin thrived last year as a featured member of the Seahawks offensive attack, making 78 grabs and scoring 14 touchdowns while gaining 1,069 yards through the air. Baldwin set career highs in receptions, targets, yards and touchdowns, but the statistical category in which he did not set a career high may be the most telling about his success. Baldwin averaged 13.7 yards per reception, the third lowest total of his five-year career. Only 16 of Baldwin’s 78 catches went for over 20 yards. So far this season: 28 receptions, 361 yards, 2 TDs

Detroit Lions wide receiver Anquan Boldin makes a catch during pre-game of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
Detroit Lions wide receiver Anquan Boldin makes a catch during pregame of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Anquan Boldin, Detroit Lions

Now 36 and in his 14th season, the Pahokee native and Florida State alum may have lost a step, but he’s still getting the job done in the NFL. A long-time star with the Cardinals, Ravens and 49ers, Boldin has amassed over 1,000 catches and 13,000 receiving yards (including averages of 78 catches and 1,015 yards per season), and has not let up this year, becoming a go-to target for Matthew Stafford with the Lions. So far this season: 29 receptions, 244 yards, 3 TDs

Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers

With Jordy Nelson having returned, Cobb has moved back into what is primarily a slot-receiver role. Lining up outside more often last year, Cobb’s efficiency took a hit and his overall numbers dropped slightly as well. After catching 71.7 percent of balls thrown his way for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2014, Cobb had a catch percentage of 61.2 with 829 yards and six touchdowns in 2015. So far this season: 28 receptions, 293 yards, 1 TD

Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints

Just 23 and in his third pro season, Cooks is one of the youngest members of this list, and for good reason. After a solid rookie season in New Orleans with 53 catches for 550 yards and three scores, Cooks broke out in a big way last year, upping his totals to 84 grabs for 1,138 yards and nine touchdowns. He has continued his production in 2016, having huge days in Week 1 against the Raiders (6 catches, 143 yards, 2 TDs) and this past Sunday against the Panthers (7 catches, 173 yards, 1 TD). So far this season: 25 receptions, 428 yards, 3 TDs

Eric Decker, New York Jets

Though he was placed on injured reserve last week, Decker warrants a mention on this list, having averaged around 13 yards per reception and a shade under 1,000 yards a year during his two seasons with the Jets. His red-zone production went way up last year, upping his touchdown total to 12 from his five in 2014. He only caught 60.6 percent of his 132 targets last season, a number that didn’t seem to hamper his production too much as he registered the third 1,000 yard season of his career. So far this season: 9 receptions, 194 yards, 2 TDs

Julian Edelman, New England Patriots

Taking over the reins from Wes Welker, Edelman has made his living in the slot with the Patriots. In his seven-plus seasons in New England, Edelman has dealt with loads of injuries, yet he’s still posted two seasons of over 900 receiving yards. His catch percentage has been consistent the past three seasons, hovering between 68 and 69 percent each year. Edelman’s 61 catches for 692 yards in nine games last season indicates that, if healthy, Edelman will continue to be consistently targeted. And now that Tom Brady is back from suspension, those totals should continue to rise. So far this season: 28 receptions, 261 yards, 0 TDs

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) runs prior to an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) runs prior to an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals

One of the elder statesmen of the group, Fitzgerald has made the most of what is supposed to be the post-prime of his career by utilizing his talents in the slot. Fitzgerald’s size, speed and hands make him the perfect target, and in 2015, Fitzgerald experienced a rebirth of sorts, rebounding from three straight seasons of under 1,000 yards by catching 109 passes for 1,215 yards and nine touchdowns. He also caught roughly 75 percent of the passes thrown his way, indicating that he has been and will continue to be a viable safety valve for Cardinals quarterbacks. So far this season: 37 receptions, 410 yards, 5 TDs

Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins

Jarvis Landry has only played two-plus seasons in the league, but the LSU alum has quickly established himself as one of the best slot receivers in football. Landry, who posted his first 1,000-yard season last year, caught 110 passes for 1,157 yards, up from the 84 receptions and 758 yards he amassed in his rookie year. Last season, Landry was targeted 166 times, well up from his 112 in 2014. With continued consistency and a steady diet of targets for the Dolphins’ top receiving option, Landry should remain among the best slot receivers in the NFL for some time. So far this season: 41 receptions, 494 yards, 1 TD

Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles

Matthews shined in his first two seasons in Philadelphia, seeing a significant increase of targets from year one to year two, and has continued that progression into this sason. He has been reliable when targeted, amassing a catch percentage of 67.5 last season. Add in eight touchdowns each of his first two seasons — with an average of 935 yards a year — and it’s fair to say Matthews has flourished in the Eagles offense and will continue to do so. So far this season: 22 receptions, 344 yards, 2 TDs

Golden Tate, Detroit Lions

A veteran who has embodied the slot-receiver role for most of his pro career, Tate’s numbers have rarely jumped off the page. Still, he has averaged 75 catches for 933 yards a season over the last four years, including a big jump up since joining the Lions in 2014. So far this season: 25 receptions, 299 yards, 1 TD