Last season was a breakout year for New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman. The former Kent State quarterback was Tom Brady’s most reliable receiver and the team’s most productive offensive weapon following the season-ending injury to tight end Rob Gronkowski. Edelman is entering the 2014 season with an increased level of confidence, but also realizes he has to work even harder to have another productive season. He told reporters after training camp Sunday just how important practice is in maintaining a consistency on the field.
Following a year in which he caught 105 passes for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns, Edelman is prepared to put in even more work to put up similar numbers. He also isn’t letting last season get to his head. He said, “Confidence is built through execution, and in practice when you do it consistently. When you’re out there, and you’re consistently doing the right assignment, making a play, doing what you have to do at a high rate, that’s when you go out and you play your fastest and you play your most confident.”
Hopefully, the Patriots offense won’t have to rely on Edelman as much as they had to last season, especially with a healthy Gronkowski and Danny Amendola. Edelman, however, will still be one of Brady’s favorite targets, but knows last season’s results won’t necessarily be duplicated this year. He said, “As far as results and all that stuff, that means nothing because this is a completely new year.”
One difference this year is that he’s going up against a player like Darrelle Revis in practice. Having one of the toughest cornerbacks in the league on his own team will only help Edelman and the other receivers on the team. It will also humble him and prepare him for some of the challenges he will face during the 2014 season.
“It’s good to go against all different sorts of guys because everyone’s a little different, and that’s how it is in the NFL. You’re gonna play against a big guy, you’re going to play against a smart guy….You’re gonna play against those kinds of guys and every time you match against someone different, it’s a good experience for you because you’re just putting that in your artillery for what you have to do to beat a guy like that.”
Julian Edelman has the speed and the skill set to put up the kind of numbers he put up a season ago. He is a tough, versatile player who will lay all he has out there on the field. Confidence has become a key to his production, but that confidence comes from hard work and the ability to turn execution into big plays.