And it’s not like this is a new comparison for Edelman. But it’s pretty obvious he’s kinda heard enough of that for now, and is looking to carve his own niche in the offense, whether Welker’s ready or not.
“I am not replacing Wes,” Edelman said. “I’ve been hearing it so much I let it go in one ear and out the other. I’m just a guy trying to earn a job. It is unfair to Wes.”
He’s right, of course. Welker’s caught over 100 balls in three consecutive seasons, and is among the best at what he does in football.
And Edelman’s still mining the transition from option quarterback to pro receiver. Last year, plenty of his catches came on screens and plays designed to put him in space (which is where he excelled as a collegian), and so now the idea is to become more complete as a receiver, which is his focus this offseason.
“I’m still trying to become a receiver, I’m still trying to transition,” Edelman said. “It hasn’t come quite yet. (Having played quarterback) definitely has helped, it kind of hurt me in a way too though, when I had to hear the play instead of saying the play. That was always a little difficult in the very beginning.
“But seeing coverages and watching film, it’s helped. I have a pretty decent knowledge of the game, because of playing the position of quarterback. … For me, it’s all about learning the receiver position, once again. The details of how to get open and how to read coverages, that’s what I’ve been focusing on.”
Edelman finished last season with 37 catches for 359 yards and a touchdown, with 10 catches and 103 yards coming in Houston game after Welker’s injury. He followed that with six catches for 44 yards and both the Patriots’ touchdowns in the 33-14 loss to Baltimore in the wild card round.
Not bad at all for a guy in his first year of a position change. But not good enough, yet, for Edelman.
“What kind of receiver was I? A kid that worked hard, was good with the ball in his hands,” Edelman said. “Didn’t run the greatest routes, tried hard to get open, but I’ll let the coaches judge me on that. I’m just trying to get better.”
By the end of all that, though, he’d come a long from being booed for dropping a punt or two in camp, something he was jokingly reminded of during his talk with the media.
“Were they booing or were they saying, ‘Bruuu-schi’? I don’t know,” Edelman said. “Like I said, that was tough, a little tough, because you got about 5,000 people there, and some high punts, and I was still new to it and a little nervous with all the fans out there. But you have to have a short memory, whether it’s good or bad.”
Here’s some more from our time with No. 11 …
Dealing with the pressure of the playoffs: “My dad always told me that stuff like that’s not really pressure, he’s always told me that pressure is when you have a $1,000 bill and you only have $500 in the bank with three kids. That’s pressure. We get paid to play a game, and you get opportunities. You’re supposed to take advantage of opportunities. So I don’t really look at it like that. I just try to prepare the same as always, because if you’re not preparing the same as always, that means you’re preparing harder a certain time than another time, and you shouldn’t be doing. That’s all I can say about that. I just prepared. And the biggest game I probably played in (as a collegian) was probably Kentucky or Iowa State. We were a mid-major squad over there at Kent State, so we didn’t get to play the big dogs that much.“
Welker’s impact on him: “He’s had a huge impact. Any time you can just sit and watch Wes Welker play, you’re taking mental reps. It helps you a lot because most of the time, 98 percent of the time, he’s right in what he does. So anytime you can sit there and watch him, and visualize yourself in that position and take a mental rep, it’s helping you. So it was a huge part of transitioning to this position.”
On getting bigger and faster: “I’m pretty much the same weight. I’m getting a little more explosive here and there, I feel a little quicker, with the times we’re doing with all these little tests and stuff. … The physical, you obviously have to worry about your physical aspect of the game. But that’ll come. I’m more focusing on that mental aspect.“
On any doubts the position change would work: “I never though that. I was always grateful for the opportunity I was given. It is a little overwhelming for a kid a year ago who was playing quarterback to in a calender year playing wide receiver in a playoff game for the New England Patriots. When I grew up this was a franchise that was winning Super Bowls. It is still a franchise that gets double digit wins every year. It was a little overwhelming but when you are preparing you can’t think about that.“
On Randy Moss: “Randy’s a great leader. a lot of people bust his.. um, mess with him with the kind of guy he is, but I think that’s an unfair perspective of him, because he’s always been helpful. He’s, ultimately, a team player. A lot of people don’t think that of him. He’s here to try to help us get better and last year, he’d pull me aside, like you said, teach me, up on little things, try to get me better because I was trying to get in there and be part of the receiver corps and Randy’s a big part of the team and a good leader.”
On Torry Holt: “Torry Holt is a future Hall of Famer, he’s also been at that level along with Randy. Any time you have these kind of veterans like these guys and you’re going to take everything they say and you’re going to listen to it well. You’re going to take it from everyone,
but I mean, these guys especially with the situations and the ballgames, they’ve been in in and the numbers they’ve produced.”
On David Patten: “Don’t let me forget David Patten. Don’t let me forget him. One of the hardest workers you’ll see. We were just catching balls right now together, competing, that’s what Patten brings. He brings a competitiveness with him and it allows us to sit there and make each other better because we’re competing at everything we do. And that’s what DPat does.”