There are 10 other wide receivers on the Patriots' roster and Julian Edelman has just 11 receptions over the last two seasons, but as he heads into his fourth season, the former seventh-round pick's versatility might give him a leg up over the others.
The 5-foot-10-inch, 198 pound former Kent State quarterback took 181 snaps on offense and 125 (over seven games in the second half of the season and playoffs) as a defensive back, and also fielded a team-high 28 punts for 296 yards (10.6 average) and 12 kickoffs for 284 yards (23.7 average).
By comparison, fellow receivers Deion Branch, Chad Ochocinco, Jabar Gaffney, and Donte' Stallworth have little to no special teams value at this point, which could sway things in Edelman's favor.
But as his teammates have declared before him this offseason, Edelman said competition only creates better players.
"That’s part of this business. Every year I’ve been here, there’s been pretty high competition at every position and I think that makes guys better when you’re competing. And if you’re afraid to compete probably you're going to be gone," he said. "So there’s definitely a lot of competition and you’re getting better.
"All I can do is worry about trying to learn the receiver position and whatever they want me to do in any other phase of the game."
Edelman also took a couple of playful swipes at his teammates, saying Tom Brady's acting "has come a long way" since he was in an episode of "Entourage," and that he tells new Patriot Brandon Lloyd often that he's been a fan since he was "a little kid" growing up in Northern California and Lloyd was with the 49ers (for the record, Lloyd was drafted by the Niners in 2003, when Edelman was a junior in high school).
After the Patriots' organized team activity session last week, Edelman said it was exciting to be back on the field with his teammates, "especially with the taste in your mouth you have from last year. Starting over and building from there."
Asked about the differences Josh McDaniels has brought to the offense (McDaniels left New England for Denver in 2009, the year the Patriots drafted Edelman), he said most of it is in the terminology, but acknowledged that it's pretty similar to what he's known for the last few years.
As for any coming cameos with the defense, Edelman said he hasn't been in any defensive meetings to this point. That can always change.