Julian Edelman was drafted in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots out of Kent State. During his rookie year it looked like he may become a key component in the Patriots offense but his playing time dwindled over the next two years. Now healthy and producing, it looks again as though Edelman may be the playmaker the Patriots were hoping for.
After making the team in 2009, Edelman made an immediate impact in his rookie year collecting 37 receptions in 11 games for 359 yards. But his production fell over the next two years. In 2010 he recorded just seven receptions in 15 games. In 2011 his lack of offensive impact influenced the coaching staff to switch him to the other side of the ball to help the defensive secondary who had been devastated by injury.
Things started to look brighter for the fourth year player heading into this season. The intense contract negotiations with Pro Bowl wide receiver Wes Welker seemed to strain the relationship between him and the organization. Edelman took advantage and became the team’s number two receiver for the first two weeks. But his progress came to a halt the next game in Baltimore.
In week three the Patriots had the Sunday night game against the Baltimore Ravens as they attempted to push their record back over .500. Late in the second quarter Edelman left the game with a hand injury and didn’t return. Details were sketchy as to what exactly the injury was but it kept the receiver out for the next three games.
Even when he came back there were questions about his health. Over the following three weeks he caught just three passes for a total of 15 yards. After it finally looked as though Edelman would fulfill the promise he showed during his rookie year, it appeared that he had taken a few steps back. But that changed on Sunday evening against the Indianapolis Colts.
With Welker questionable heading into the weekend and veteran Deion Branch released just days before the game, it looked like Edelman would be forced to play an important role for the Patriots. While Welker did play recording a seven catch evening, Edelman stole the show.
Edelman started to show his full ability in the second quarter when he returned a Colts punt 68-yards for a touchdown that tied the game at 14-14. Later he returned another punt 47 yards that set up another Patriots touchdown. Offensively he had five catches for 58 yards and an additional touchdown. He even got into the running game taking his lone carry for 47 yards.
At the beginning of the season it looked as though Edelman would finally became the playmaker he showed the potential of becoming in 2009 but after he was sidelined by a hand injury it seemed like that was a mirage. After returning for three games in which he was virtually nonexistent, there was no reason to believe that he would make an impact on this team. But Sunday proved that assumption wrong. On a day that ended with Edelman recording 58 yards receiving, 47 yards rushing, 115 return yards, and two touchdowns, it now appears that the young Edelman can become the player the Patriots had hoped.