FOXBOROUGH — The rookies aren’t the only ones in New England’s wide receiver room looking to develop chemistry with quarterback Tom Brady.
In his 10th NFL season, veteran Julian Edelman says he, too, is engaged in the ongoing process of earning Brady’s trust. Although the two obviously have a strong rapport — Edelman is behind only wide receiver Wes Welker in career receptions from Brady — their relationship is still evolving as well.
“I think if you’re done growing, you’re done playing,” Edelman said Friday at Gillette Stadium. “My dad always said, ‘When you’re green, you grow. When you’re ripe, you rot.’ That’s what you do here. You try to continually go out and get better. Improve whatever you need to improve. That’s what I’ll do till the day I’m done.”
The oldest member of the receiving corps and by far the longest-tenured Patriot of the bunch, Edelman has been a needed point of familiarity this season. Despite battling shoulder and chest injuries, the 33-year-old is Brady’s most trusted receiver with 82 catches for 915 yards and five touchdowns. His 123 targets rank second in the league, behind only Michael Thomasof the New Orleans Saints. If Edelman tallies at least 24 receptions and 192 receiving yards over the remaining four regular-season games, he’ll notch career highs in both categories.
Edelman’s steady production often warrants double coverage from opposing teams, further raising the need for other receivers to step up. As the Patriots work to effectively integrate newer faces into their offense, Edelman is often asked: How did he establish such a solid connection with Brady? How long did the process take? What type of information can he pass along?
While Edelman elected to keep some of that intel in-house, he emphasized the importance of being consistent in practice to show dependability. To this day, that’s Edelman’s approach: Run routes correctly, catch balls, communicate, and bring it in practice so Brady knows he can expect the same in games.
“You have to go out and earn [trust] every day in practice,” Edelman said. “You’re still continuing to try and gain trust. Trust isn’t something you just get and it stays. You have to continually earn it. It took me a while to get a chemistry with [Brady], but you go out every day and you try to work that and try to keep it.”
Sanu feeling better
Wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, who is questionable with an ankle injury, said he feels “pretty good” ahead of Sunday’s game against Kansas City.
Sanu missed the Week 12 game against Dallas because of an ankle injury, and has since been limited in practice. When he returned in Week 13 against Houston, Sanu was on the field for only 22 percent of the team’s offensive snaps.
In four games with the Patriots, Sanu has caught 17 passes on 28 targets for 122 yards and a touchdown. Over half of his catches and yardage, however, came in one game, the Week 9 loss against Baltimore (10 catches, 81 yards). As he looks to contribute more, Sanu is keeping things simple.