|Julian Edelman and his love affair with punt returns: ‘I love returning punts’||07.28.14 at 10:59 am ET|
FOXBORO — Julian Edelman knows he’s a wanted man.
Since the departure of Wes Welker, he’s become the No. 1 wide receiver target of Tom Brady and second only behind Rob Gronkowski in terms of priority passing options for the Patriots quarterback. Defenses last season began to understand this and that figures to be the case again this season as Edelman draws more and more attention.
But like Welker, Edelman’s value goes far beyond the passing game. He is one of the best weapons in the game as a punt returner – ever.
Surprised? Consider that he is tied for fourth best all-time (minimum 75 returns) with Devin Hester at 12.3 yards per return and is only a half-yard from George McAfee and Jack Christiansen for the best average in NFL history.
No one is calling Edelman’s return skills “ridiculous” as was the case with Hester but still, those are lofty numbers and explain why Bill Belichick wants to devote such important resources to give Edelman the best chance at making big plays on retuns. Sunday, he was back again receiving punts as Devin McCourty and Darrelle Revis were defending the opposing gunner while Brandon Browner was on the opposite side.
“I think it’s key just because we have a returner in Julian who can make big plays and he can score touchdowns,” McCourty said. “For us, we just have to go out there and give him a chance. We’re all guys that have been in the league. We’ve all done it before, and if we give him a chance, I think he can make big plays and that helps the team win.”
Edelman’s numbers fell a bit in 2013, averaging 10.7 yards per return with a career-high 23 fair catches.
“When you get 10 yards that’s your goal and when guys are working together you get a little more which is great,” Edelman said about the importance of the entire special teams unit. “But our number one job on that unit is to get the ball in the offense’s hand and make the right decision.”
Sunday, it paid off as Edelman thrilled the 10,000 fans in attendance by breaking free down the right sideline on one return. For Edelman, it’s part of his roots with the Patriots, something he has always enjoyed because it earned him a spot on the roster.
“That’s a part of the game that gave me an opportunity to make this team,” Edelman said. “I love returning punts. I want to do that and if they ask me to do that, I’m going to do it.”
If he doesn’t do it or is unable to perform those responsibilities, the duty will fall to Danny Amendola or possibly rookie Roy Finch, assuming his makes the team. Finch took some return reps Sunday, including a bobble, but recovered quickly.
“You guys remember when I was a rookie bobbling the ball around everywhere and getting booed by the crowd, but he’s just got to get some experience, repetition,” Edelman said, adding perspective. “You got to work on catching punts, finding the tip of the ball — if it turns over, if it doesn’t — what foot punter it is, the trajectory of the punt, what return you have — if it’s a return, if it’s not a return — the situation in the game,” Edelman said. “All that stuff. It comes with experience. I still have to try in practice every day to improve what I have to do because it’s a craft. If you don’t do it every day, it will slip away.”
|Saturday notes: Danny Nickerson celebrates belated birthday with Patriots||07.26.14 at 12:34 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots held their third training camp session of the summer Saturday, practicing for roughly two and a half hours in pads.
Here are a few notes on the session:
- The highlight of the practice came at the end, with Foxboro resident Danny Nickerson coming onto the field for a belated birthday celebration. Nickerson, who turned six on Friday, has an inoperable brain tumor and received 100,000 birthday cards from around the world.
‘ Matt Chatham (@chatham58) July 26, 2014
- Defensive lineman Tommy Kelly was on the field in pads, meaning the veteran was activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list.
- Saturday appeared to be Julian Edelman appreciation day, as he was thrown several deep balls and received major cheers with each catch. Edelman reeled in four deep passes from various quarterbacks on the day. He also had a diving catch in double coverage later in the practice.
- It wasn’t all good for Edelman, however, as he and Tom Brady fell victim to Darrelle Revis multiple times. Revis intercepted Brady on a pair of passes that were intended for Edelman during drills in addition to breaking up passes.
- Rookie quarterback Jimmy Garappolo threw three interceptions and ran the only lap of the session with an unknown flub (it was on the other end of the field; likely a fumble or botched snap) during goal line work. Two of the second-round pick’s interceptions were tipped before being snagged, with the other one being a clean pick on a deeper pass. Garappolo got a break from the crowd when he connected on a deep pass with tight end Justin Jones.
- It wasn’t the prettiest day for Kenbrell Thompkins, who had a pair of drops. The second-year receiver dropped a pass over the middle from Brady during 7-on-7 work and later failed to secure a pass along the sidelines during passing drills.
- Defensive back Malcolm Butler was beaten by a pair of receivers in 1-on-1 drills. First he was burned by Josh Boyce on a deep pass from Brady and then he was shaken by Edelman on an intermediate route.
|Julian Edelman on MFB: ‘Around here we ignore noise’||07.25.14 at 12:39 pm ET|
Edelman is looking to build on a breakout 2013 season, as he caught 105 passes for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns.
“What happened last year happened last year; what happens in the future happens in the future,” Edelman said. “I’m just kind of worrying about the present right now, taking advantage of coming out here each and every day and trying to improve and work on my fundamentals and earn my spot.”
Tom Brady was the focus of some criticism in the offseason for his alleged decline in play. Edelman said that kind of talk won’t be a distraction to the team.
“Around here we ignore noise, and we don’t believe the hype,” Edelman said. “You’d have to ask Tom on that. I’m sure he can answer that. I tell you right now, I’m glad that we have 12 as our quarterback. I wouldn’t want to have any other guy.”
Asked what it takes to succeed with Brady and the Patriots system, Edelman said: “Through my experience it’s just being consistent. You can’t make a mistake twice. You have to be able to take things from the classroom, translate that to drills, translating that to practice. When you do it in practice it becomes a game execution. Just going out there and being consistent, not having up and down days, staying on top of your stuff, being focused in the classroom. Consistency is pretty much the main thing.”
|Julian Edelman talks Darrelle Revis, Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady with NFL Network||06.25.14 at 10:08 am ET|
Julian Edelman appeared on NFL Network’s “Total Access” Monday night, and talked about a wide variety of topics, including Darrelle Revis, Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Here are a few quick highlights:
“Darrelle is one of the best corners in the NFL and he showed that in camp. He did very well. He’s a very instinctive player. He’s great in the locker room, I like competing against him every day, and it’s good to have a player like that.”
On Gronkowski possibly playing in Week 1:
“Well, I’m not a doctor or trainer or anything. I see Gronk in the locker room, he’s working hard, doing what he’s trying to do. But when Gronk’s on the field, he’s probably one of the best tight ends in the NFL. It’s always great to have him out there and hopefully he will be.”
On Brady wanting to play until he’s 40:
“It wouldn’t surprise me. Knowing him the way I know him, I am sure he’s just focused on this year. You’re going to have to ask him that. The guy is in here, working hard, preparing to the fullest ability, taking care of his body. So you know that he’ll definitely have a shot to do it.”
On whether Belichick has watched his “Burgertyme” and “Smoothie Tyme” videos:
“You know, I’m sure he did. Because they kind came off his original, I think it was called the Bill PB&J [show] with the two pieces of bread in between with double layers of peanut butter. So I think we actually stole the concept from Bill Belichick.”
On what he remembers from the Patriots’ Week 12 win over the Broncos after being down 24-0 at the half:
“I remember we won. That was a good memory. That we won that one. No, but seriously — at halftime, we couldn’t have done anything worse than what we were putting on the field in the first half. We kind of just took it as, ‘We can’t get any worse than what we did so let’s go out there and just play each series the way we have to and just try to string a couple of consistent drives up,’ and we were able to do that. We played complimentary football in the second half, and came out with the win.”
|Julian Edelman: ‘Durability is better than ability’||06.05.14 at 4:19 pm ET|
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.”
|Julian Edelman hits YouTube with ‘Burgertyme’||05.29.14 at 12:01 pm ET|
Cross “Between Two Ferns” with Zach Galifianakis with a dose of life in the NFL, and you’ve got Julian Edelman‘s new YouTube show, “Burgertyme.” Here’s the initial episode, with special guest star Chandler Jones.
|Resetting list of Patriots and their own free agents||04.09.14 at 1:04 pm ET|
With Matthew Mulligan agreeing to a deal with the Bears on Tuesday, here’s an updated look at the Patriots 2014 free agent class. If you’re scoring at home, of its 12 free agents, New England has retained four and lost five, while three remain on the market.
Long snapper Danny Aiken: Signed a one-year deal to return to New England.
Running back LeGarrette Blount: Signed a two-year deal with Pittsburgh.
Defensive end Andre Carter: Free agent, but has expressed an interest in returning.
Wide receiver Austin Collie: Free agent.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman: Signed a four-year contract to return to New England.
Linebacker Dane Fletcher: Signed a one-year deal with Tampa Bay.
Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui: Signed a two-year deal to return to New England.
Tight end Matthew Mulligan: Singed a one-year deal with Chicago.
Linebacker Brandon Spikes: Signed a one-year deal with Buffalo.
Offensive lineman Will Svitek: Free agent.
Cornerback Aqib Talib: Signed a six-year deal with Denver.
Center Ryan Wendell: Signed a two-year deal to return to New England.
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