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Julian Edelman: ‘Durability is better than ability’

06.05.14 at 4:19 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Last season, Julian Edelman was one of those rare twentysomething pass catchers who saw his stats jump from middle-of-the-road numbers into the stratosphere. The former college quarterback had one of the best starts of any receiver of the Tom Brady era, and was the first receiver in a New England uniform other than Wes Welker to finish a season with 100-plus catches since Troy Brown turned the trick in 2001.

As a result, Edelman was rewarded in the offseason with a four-year, $17 million deal, with $8 million in guaranteed money.

But as the receiver enters his sixth season in the NFL, he says that his newfound security hasn’t changed his mindset.

“I haven’t even thought about it. I’m just trying to go out there very day and try and get better,” he said after a soggy OTA session Thursday on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium. “Every guy has a different kind of goal, whether it’s trying to make the team, whether it’s trying to contribute to something. I’m just like one of those guys — trying to earn a role and go out there and help this team.”

A major goal for Edelman in 2014 is building on his 2013 performance, creating the sort of consistency needed to truly emerge as one of the league’s elite pass catchers. That starts with staying on the field. The 6-foot, 198-pound Edelman played a full 16-game season for the first time in his professional career last year, and would love to keep that streak alive.

“Being on the field is priority No. 1, because durability is better than ability,” he said. “You guys know that this is a tough game. It’s a grind. But definitely trying to be on the field for 16 games will be on my list [of priorities for 2014].”

There’s also taking advantage of the opportunities throughout the spring practice sessions. The biggest thing to focus on throughout the OTAs is timing, and getting back into the rhythm of the game.

“You want to go in and work your timing,” he said. “You want to get reps, muscle memory on your fundamentals when you’re running routes. catching the ball at a high pace with a guy on you — stuff like that. You want to have little mini-goals of not going in and making a mistake if there’s some new material each and every day, something like that. You want to try to execute to the best of your ability the first time instead of taking one or two times to do it. Just stuff like that. It’s good to get out here and get reps like a unit and try and not to be that one guy making a mistake on one play.”

Edelman said Thursday that things have been helped along this spring with the addition of new receiver Brandon LaFell (“a great addition” and “a smart guy,” according to Edelman) and new cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. Revis and Browner — as well as returning defensive backs like Devin McCourty, Alfonzo Dennard and Logan Ryan — have lifted the play of the passing game, consistently challenging the receiving corps.

“You go out there and you’re playing against premier corners,” he said. “We had premier corners last year, and then, adding the new guys, it’s good. It’s going to make you better. You know if you don’t focus on a fundamental or if you’ll be lazy or something, these type of guys they will take advantage of that type of opportunity. It’s going to make me better and hopefully, we’ll make them better.

“All of them, these guys are instinctive guys. They know football,” he added. “If you don’t stick to your fundamentals, your concepts, your coaching points, or any of that, they will take advantage of it.”

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