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Patriots' Julian Edelman struggling to deal with sitting start of season

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman acknowledged that this has been a challenging week for him, as he gets in his final work before serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing substances policy.

"Real football starts soon, so it's definitely been a reality check," Edelman said after the team's practice Tuesday. "I'm not going to sit here and worry about things I can't control. Ultimately, I put myself in this situation, so it's more of 'let's go and get myself ready for when I can play.'"

Edelman, who is returning from a torn ACL that sidelined him for the entire 2017 season, said that preparation will include taking extra time to "get my knee feeling great." He didn't detail how he plans to spend the four weeks away but ensured he'd be watching each of the team's first four games -- against the Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins. He'll be banned from the team's facility during his suspension.

As for his final week around the team, he said he's preparing to play in Thursday's preseason finale against the New York Giants.

"I definitely put a lot more value into these practices and every opportunity I've had this week to go out and do extra," he said. "I won't be there for the first four, so I don't want to go into those weeks saying 'I wish I would have done this or I wish I would have done that.' It's been a hard week."

In the 2016 season, when quarterback Tom Brady was set to serve a four-game NFL suspension to open the year, he played in the preseason finale. Edelman said Brady has been "very helpful" to him on how to handle the four weeks away.

How the Patriots fill Edelman's void is one of their most pressing issues, as Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson top the receiver depth chart.