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Julian Edelman took the ‘back road’ to the NFL

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Now 27 years old and New England’s not-so-secret-yet-undersized weapon heading into Sunday’s AFC title matchup with the Broncos, Julian Edelman this season has experienced the ultimate career growth spurt. It has all been a blend of his own talent and a litany of near-bizarre personnel-related circumstances, including debilitating injuries to receivers higher on the depth chart (Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola), as well as the arrest and incarceration of prized tight end Aaron Hernandez on murder charges.

Through all the shuffle and strife of the season, the 5-foot-10 Edelman emerged as just the latest New England slot receiver to catch more than 100 of Tom Brady’s passes, cash in six of those for touchdowns, and further solidify his standing as one of the game’s most dazzling and efficient punt returners.

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