For Tom Brady and the Patriots offense there’s been a lot of change at the wide receiver position over the past few years, with only one real constant – Julian Edelman.
In his fifth season out of Kent State, where he played quarterback, Edelman is the longest tenured player Brady is throwing the ball to. The chemistry and trust Brady and Edelman have developed is something which may go unnoticed and is sometimes under-appreciated, particularly with having bigger names catching passes like Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola.
“He’s been so dependable and consistent all year for our team,” Brady said. “He’s been the one veteran player on our offense that’s been in there and has been around. He always does a great job. He’s tough, smart, disciplined. It’s fun to see him do well because he deserves it.”
This season has been a breakout year for the 27-year-old who has already caught a career-high 61 passes for 610 yards in 2013, eclipsing his previous highs set in his rookie season when he hauled in 37 passes for 359 yards. His four touchdowns are also a career-high.
Edelman had his best game of the season last Sunday night in the Patriots’ thrilling come-from-behind win over the Broncos where he caught nine passes on 11 targets for 110 yards and two touchdowns, ultimately stealing the show from Wes Welker in his return as well as Amendola, who was brought to New England to replace Welker.
“My number was called a few times and I was able to have a couple opportunities and I just try to take advantage of them,” said Edelman following the game. “A couple games back it was [Kenbrell Thompkins], [Aaron Dobson], Danny [Amendola.] That’s our job – our job is to be able to get open and catch the football, and I was able to do that a few times.”
Not only is Edelman a dependable receiver, but he’s turned into the best Patriots punt returner since Troy Brown. The shifty, 5-foot-10, 195 pound Edelman always seems to make something happen when, seemingly, there is nothing there and rarely makes a poor decision on whether to call for a fair catch or let the ball bounce.
There was a chance Edelman wouldn’t be with New England this season as he was a free agent following last season and was rumored to be interested in signing with the 49ers and Giants, but in the end he returned to the Patriots, settling on a one-year contract loaded with incentives.
“Julian is a tough competitor,” coach Bill Belichick said Sunday.
The Patriots and Belichick are glad the tough competitor is on their side as although he may not typically see many headlines, he’s been one of the biggest contributors for the Patriots’ 8-3 record.