FOXBOROUGH — Julian Edelman isn’t resting on his laurels.
After four years on the Patriots, in 2013 he became the Patriots’ leading receiver with 105 catches for 1,056 yards and one of Tom Brady’s favorite targets in crucial situations, especially when an ACL tear sidelined tight end Rob Gronkowski.
That kind of success can sometimes cause a player to assume he will reach that level of production every year. And for someone like Edelman, a seventh-round pick brought into the organization for mere special teams appearances, there’s a worry that his head might have swelled thanks to his drastic evolution in the pros. It’s all rubbish, though. The former Kent State quarterback doesn’t look to previous years, seeing every season as a fresh slate.
“Everything that’s happened in the past doesn’t really mean anything now, this is the present,” he said. “It’s a completely different situation now, a completely new team, this is when you earn what you’re going to do for the team, during training camp and preseason. What I can try to do is come out here stay healthy and be durable.”
The changed outlook of the Pats primarily comes on defense, the acquisitions of an elite player in Darrelle Revis and an imposing corner in Brandon Browner. Despite both men surely challenging Edelman, it’s not their unique skills set that yields a good test, rather, the wide variety of abilities a group of defensive backs can display.
“They’re obviously big corners,” he said. “They’re a bunch of guys out there who are good, and everyone’s a little different. That’s how it is in the NFL; you’re going to play against a big guy, you’re going to play against a smart guy.”
Edelman believes that practice makes perfect, and it’s noticeable by the way he performs on the field, ensuring that his routes are sharp and hitting almost every drill at full speed during training camp. It’s this approach to the game that must have separated himself years ago, and he sticks to that mentality.
“Confidence is built through execution in practice when you do it consistently,” he said. “When you’re out there doing the right assignment, what you have to do at a high rate, that’s when you go out and play your fastest and most confident.”
For all the Patriots battling at training camp, Sunday highlighted the second day of full pads, and the physicality rose.
“It’s always a little different when you throw the pads on because there’s a little more surface area,” Edelman said. “That’s a natural phase of the game, it gets more physical, but it also helps us a little because you have to worry about the run.”
Brandon Browner drew a reaction from fans with his shoulder check on running back James White midway through the morning session, and linebacker Taylor McCuller and Michael Hoomanawanui got into a scuffle during drills.
Edelman noted the general increased intensity, but when asked about the scrap between McCuller and Hoomanawanui, the hard-nosed receiver was brief.
“That’s training camp,” he said of the fight.
Edelman stays true to his focus on the task at hand, which with it being a little more than a week before preseason is about building cohesion and contending for a championship. What other NFL teams are currently doing is irrelevant.
“Right now, we’re not even thinking about other teams,” he said. “We’re thinking about what we have to do to improve our team.”