All purpose yards are usually very impressive for a team to have an even balance of. But what if a player single-handedly obtains more than half the of a team’s total yards? Not to mention, what if that player is a rookie and this game was his first as a professional football player? This is just the beginning for the newly acquired Patriot quarterback turned wide receiver Julian Edelman.
Players who are drafted in the later rounds aren’t just given a chance to play in the NFL, but also an immediate sense of having something to prove. It’s almost too easy to forget that Tom Brady himself was a mere sixth-round pick in the 2000 Draft. Edelman is well-aware of this burden and has plenty in his arsenal to prove his worth.
With the 232nd overall pick, the New England Patriots chose Edelman, a 5-foor-11, 198-pound quarterback from Kent State University. What seems to be the most impressive of the California native’s career at KSU is the fact that his passing yards rivaled his rushing yards. With a 3,190 total yards, 1,820 passing and 1,370 rushing, Edelman’s versatility and numbers were too impressive for the New England to ignore. The last KSU quarterback to make a successful transition into the NFL is Joshua Cribbs, currently the Cleveland Browns’ top punt returner, emergency quarterback and also plays wide receiver.
Edelman’s tenure as a Golden Flash lasted three years in which he started a total of 31 games, only missing four games during his junior season because of a broken arm. The injury and his career at Kent State are all part of Edelman’s past and after impressing teammates and fans at recent training camp sessions, his professional debut was bound to be an interesting one.
On the evening of August 13, 2009, the biggest news of the Patriots and Eagles preseason game was the return of four-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl MVP Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Although rookies are likely to play in these games, some are rarely expected to make plays. Julian Edelman had his own expectations. Besides being on the receiving end of Tom Brady’s first pass completion of the game, Edelman contributed a total of 136 all purpose yards for the Patriots’ offense.
Perhaps the most impressive and highlighted play of the night was No. 11’s 75-yard punt return. Upon examining the replay, Edelman seems to slide past defenders as if they were non-existent. With his experience in a spread formation at KSU, Edelman has been equipped with an accurate sense of the field and is able to make cuts without losing speed. As Edelman recorded a 4.52 in the 40 yard dash at the 2009 Combine, that speed seemed to increase the closer defenders approached him.
Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots runs back a punt for a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles on August 13, 2009 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
In complete rookie fashion, Edelman credits his team for the success of the touchdown run. “… That punt return was executed exactly the way we designed it. It was a total team effort. I did my job, they did theirs.”
Edelman concluded the game with five catches and a total of 136 all purpose yards, the entire Patriots offense combined had 257 total yards. More than half belonged to the emerging rookie. With an introduction like that into the NFL, it would be easy to find a comfort in your position in a team, but the KSU alum believes otherwise, “The moment you get complacent, that’s when bad things happen...”
The Patriots eventually won their first preseason game against the Eagles with a final score of 27-25. With their next preseason match up against the Bengals at Gillette Stadium, Edelman can count on being given more opportunities to show the full extent of his abilities. Proving that being an all purpose player doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a jack of all trades but a master of none.
Kisha Tapangan covers the NFL and the New England Patriots for PatriotsInsider.com. To read more of her material, visit her blog at www.nrwithkisha.com . To contact Kisha, you can email her here: firstname.lastname@example.org