Julian Edelman was fired up over his return to the field

"I’m not saying you take those for granted, but it’s been a while since I got to see them.”

Julian Edelman
Julian Edelman looks on from the sideline during the Patriots' preseason opener. –Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman said “the nerves were juiced” ahead of Thursday’s night preseason opener against the Washington Redskins.

“I mean, it’s been a long year,” Edelman said. “I was just excited to get out there and go out there and get to play football.”

The 32-year-old started the night and was on the field for 16 offensive snaps in his first live game action since suffering a season-ending ACL injury in the preseason finale last year. Edelman did not register a catch, despite being open on a couple of plays. He told reporters after the game the lack of targets “doesn’t matter.”

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“I mean, of course, you always want the ball — Hoyer,” Edelman said, taking a playful jab at backup Brian Hoyer for not passing to him. “But it was good to go out there and hit guys and have guys around you, cutting on turf. It was definitely a fun step.”

Edelman’s injury recovery appears to be on track — something he certainly seems amped about it. As the team took the field, the veteran led the group in a full sprint before leaping into the air and pumping his fist. Although his productivity was limited during the game, he had nothing but a positive takeaway after New England’s win.

“It’s another step in the process of trying to get healthy and playing real football,” Edelman said. “Going out and hitting guys and feeling bodies, it was just fun to be out there and experience the stadium, the crowd. I’m not saying you take those for granted, but it’s been a while since I got to see them.”

As he continues to rehab his knee, Edelman will likely get more action at receiver in the Patriots’ remaining three preseason games. Once Week 1 hits, however, he will still be suspended for the first four regular-season games after violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing substances policy.