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Edelman wraps up another task

By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / November 28, 2011
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PHILADELPHIA - The last hurdle between Eagles quarterback Vince Young and the end zone was Patriots wide receiver/punt returner/cornerback Julian Edelman.

Two yards would have given the Eagles a third-quarter touchdown. One yard would have meant a fresh set of downs. With the Eagles trailing, 31-13, last night, an extra 7 points might have made the game interesting. But, as Young scrambled past the defensive line, he was tripped up by Edelman, 2 yards shy of the end zone. Two plays later, the drive ended with an incomplete pass.

This is what it has come to for the Patriots’ secondary. They are getting help wherever they can. With safety Patrick Chung and cornerback Devin McCourty nursing injuries the last two weeks, others such as Edelman have been asked to fill the void.

“When people get the reps in practice, they make the most of it,’’ cornerback Kyle Arrington said. “[Injuries] are part of the game. When people go down or whatever the case is, it’s always the next man up, and I think we do a great job of stepping in and being able to play when called upon.’’

Young attempted to pick apart the Patriots’ secondary early at Lincoln Financial Field, leading the Eagles 84 yards in five plays on the opening drive for a touchdown. The Eagles took a 10-0 lead on their next possession, but Young noticed the Patriots’ defense making adjustments.

“They got out of the zone because they saw that we were attacking a little bit, so they got out of that and went to a little more man,’’ he said.

Young still managed to complete 26 of 48 passes for 400 yards and one touchdown, the third-most passing yards allowed by the Patriots this season. He targeted DeSean Jackson 10 times, but his four catches for 73 yards all came in the first half.

“[Young] took a couple of shots on us early and I had to make some adjustments with that,’’ Arrington said. “They had a lot of quick throws and we just tried our best to mix up the coverages and make them work for it and earn it.’’

Edelman was part of those various looks. Shortly after the Eagles converted their first third down of the game, in the third quarter, Edelman blitzed and drilled Young just as he released a pass that fell incomplete.

Edelman finished with three tackles, and also handled punt return duties.

“You’re just thinking about your assignments, your techniques,’’ he said. “Whether you have a good play, bad play, you have to have a short memory and just try to start thinking about the next play because it could be defense, it could be offense.’’

It wasn’t just Edelman chipping in. With McCourty out with a shoulder injury, Antwaun Molden got the start at cornerback. He snagged the first interception of his career in the second quarter, but the Patriots were unable to convert it into points. The Patriots are tied for second in the NFL in interceptions with 16.

Arrington, who led the Patriots with 10 tackles, said big plays are nice, but they don’t want to have to rely on them.

“That’s definitely not any defense’s goal,’’ he said. “We’re always working on being better every day. We took a couple of steps in the direction we’re looking for, but we still have a lot of work to do.’’

Monique Walker can be reached at mwalker@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @monwalker.

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