Belichick: Edelman 'one of the great versatile Patriots'

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  • By Adam Maya NFL.com
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Julian Edelman's latest playoff heroics have some stating his case for a bust in Canton. That will ultimately be decided another day. But the former seventh-round converted quarterback will undoubtedly have a spot in the Patriots Hall of Fame.

Even within the winningest franchise of the Super Bowl era, Edelman's achievements stand out. His 115 receptions and 1,412 receiving yards are second-most in NFL playoff history. His six 100-yard games are tied for second most. After hauling in 10 passes for 141 yards in Sunday's Super Bowl LIII MVP performance against the Rams, he has now recorded at least five catches in 13 straight playoff games.

Not bad for a player who didn't have a position upon entering the league.

Bill Belichick revealed during Monday's post Super Bowl press conference with Edelman that longtime Dallas Morning News football writer Rick Gosselin first made him aware of the Kent State star.

"We know Rick followed the draft very closely, and at one point he said to me, a kid you might want to take a look at is this quarterback up at Kent State. I don't think he can play quarterback [in the NFL], but I've heard he's a pretty good player. ...

"I'd say the game that really impressed me most in watching Julian was the Ohio State game, he didn't have a lot of blocking and they were getting killed by Ohio State. But what you saw in that game was how competitive he was, how hard he was to tackle and how tough he was. Even though it was three or four touchdowns, or whatever they were behind, he played the game with an intensity that was honestly hard for them to handle."

Belichick said he sent two coaches to work Edelman out because he wasn't sure whether he would be a receiver, defensive back or return specialist. He did a little of all three during his first three seasons, although he wasn't a full-time player for the Pats until Year 5.

"Julian epitomizes the work ethic, toughness, mental toughness, physical toughness, determination and will, and just extraordinary ability to perform under pressure," Belichick said. "He's truly in the mold of one of the great versatile Patriots, with Troy Brown, Mike Vrabel, guys like that. ...

"Nobody has worked harder in my career than Julian to develop his skills and his craft at a position, other than I'd say Steve Neal -- other than Julian because he really didn't have any background in it."

Edelman attributed his commitment to excellence to Belichick, recalling a chance encounter from his first season after the Patriots drafted him with their penultimate pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.

"I remember going in and seeing Coach. I don't know if he remembers this, but I was a rookie and it was 11 o'clock at night," Edelman said. "By the grace of God we were walking out at the same time. I probably said maybe three words to him at the time before that, I was on the team for like six months. I just looked at him because I saw him at the treadmill watching film at 10 o'clock at night. I go, Coach, you sure like football, huh? He goes, 'It beats being a plumber. See you tomorrow.'

"When you're seeing at the time, he was a three-time Super Bowl winning head coach and two-time winning assistant coach, you see guys do that, it's going to rub off. And if it doesn't, you're probably not going to be there."

A decade later, Edelman's postseason pedigree has become so established, you almost forget the long odds he beat to reach this point, even in the last year. Edelman missed 23 consecutive games (regular season and playoffs) after tearing his ACL in August of 2017 and then being suspended for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances prior to this season.

Asked to reflect on his personal, 16-month whirlwind Monday, Edelman said it's the result of focusing on the present.

"I've been kind of trained, being in New England, to always look [at] what's on your plate at the time," he said. "When you get hurt, you're competing against yourself each day to try to get to knee your better. You're walking one day and you're jogging one day and you're doing a cut one day. Those little wins build confidence, and you're worrying about that. Then when you start to play you're trying to get back into the flow of things, and you're trying to see where you're at. You're thinking about that and you're thinking about winning games and you're thinking about going out and try to contribute, and just try to improve each week. You're not really thinking about [winning Super Bowl MVP].

"Maybe in the next couple weeks I'll be able to sit back and think about it. But by then we'll be starting up."

He'll be a three-time Super Bowl champion himself if and when he does.

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