Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman said it was a “fairly easy decision to play” this season despite concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m not a doctor, and this isn’t something not to be scared about, but I thought it would be best for me and family if I were to go out,” Edelman said Monday morning. “That’s what I chose to do. That’s why I’m here.”
This season will be unlike any other for Edelman, not only because of the modifications as a result of the virus but also because of the change at quarterback. After 20 seasons, including 10 with Edelman, veteran Tom Brady departed New England for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during free agency.
Brady and Edelman forged a close friendship over the past decade, often training and spending time together during the offseason. This year, that wasn’t the case.
“I mean, obviously, it was a little different scenario,” Edelman said. “But you got to move on. You understand that this is a business. You wish him well. That’s when you instantly start thinking about what you have to do to prepare yourself to go out and contribute and help the team for the upcoming year.”
Taking a page out of coach Bill Belichick’s book, Edelman indicated he’s onto the next.
“Obviously, we played a lot of ball together,” he said. “I love him to death. But the train keeps moving, as it will when I’m not playing here or something. It just always keeps going. We got to worry about the people that we have here.”
Brady’s replacement still isn’t set in stone, with former league MVP Cam Newton and 2019 draft pick Jarrett Stidham fighting for the starting job. Edelman worked out with both players this summer.
“Any time you’re spending time with guys that deliver the football, quarterbacks, especially on your own and away from the facility, that’s when you get to learn each other on a whole other level,” he said.
Building chemistry with both passers will take much more time and reps, Edelman said.
As for his first impressions of Newton? His 6-foot-5 stature certainly stood out.
“He’s a specimen, for sure,” Edelman said. “The dude is large, put together well. He’s got great energy. He’s got a great energy about himself. I was really impressed with his work ethic and his mindset, just like I’ve been impressed with Stidham’s and [Brian] Hoyer’s.”
Even though there’s uncertainty at quarterback, Edelman said he’s trying to focus on himself and making himself available as a resource for the younger members of the team. As the longest-tenured offensive player on the team, Edelman said he hasn’t thought about whether his leadership role has evolved. He emphasized he is primarily worried about himself, while making an effort to lead by example.
“I can remember like it was yesterday when I was a rookie,” he said. “Time flies when you’re having fun. I’ve had a lot of fun here. Hopefully, this fun continues.”
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