New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman's appeal of his four-game suspension for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy will be heard Monday, multiple media outlets reported.
Dan Graziano of ESPN.com cited sources as saying that Edelman plans to mount a vigorous defense and has enlisted outside counsel for his appeal, specifically New York-based attorney Alex Spiro.
Graziano also reported that Edelman is arguing that the NFL made mistakes in the manner in which the test results were handled. The mishandling of the evidence is one of the reasons that Edelman feels he should be exonerated.
Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated reported that the substance in question wasn't "immediately recognizable."
Breer declared that the test came in the offseason "a couple months ago." That rules out stimulants, which are included in the substance-abuse policy, separate from the performance-enhancing policy.
Edelman apologized via social media earlier this month, but did not acknowledge violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances in the posting on his Instagram account.
"I am very sorry -- I don't know what happened," Edelman wrote on the posting. "I've taken many, many tests obviously over the course of my career, and nothing like this has ever happened. I apologize to the Kraft family, my coaches, teammates and fans.
"As this matter is being appealed, I can't say anymore but no matter what, I will be ready to play and pursue another championship with our team and for Patriots fans around the world."
Should Edelman's suspension stand, he'll miss the Patriots' season opener against the Houston Texans (Sept. 9), road games versus the Jacksonville Jaguars (Sept. 16) and Detroit Lions (Sept. 23), as well as a home tilt against the Miami Dolphins (Sept. 30).
Edelman missed the entire 2017 season after suffering a torn ACL in an exhibition contest in August.
The 32-year-old Edelman has been a favorite target of quarterback Tom Brady when healthy over the last several seasons. He caught 98 passes for a career-high 1,106 yards in 2016.
A converted college quarterback who was a seventh-round draft pick of New England in 2009, Edelman has recorded 425 receptions for 4,540 yards and 24 touchdowns in 103 career games.
New England added Jordan Matthews and Cordarrelle Patterson this offseason and selected Braxton Berrios in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft to join a receiving depth chart that includes Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, Malcolm Mitchell and Kenny Britt.
Mitchell, like Edelman, missed the entire 2017 season and has been limited to conditioning drills during the team's offseason program.