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Pats rookie Edelman makes a fine first impression

8/14/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
PHILADELPHIA -- When previewing the New England Patriots' preseason opener Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field, I wanted to keep my what-to-watch-for list to five items. I extended it to six because I had a feeling Julian Edelman would stand out at some point during the game.

Little did I know it would be so quickly against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Edelman -- the seventh-round draft pick from Kent State, a converted quarterback -- made an immediate impression. By the first series of the third quarter he'd compiled the following stat line:

Team-high five receptions for 37 yards, a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown, a 24-yard kickoff return, one special-teams tackle.

Tom Brady went out of his way to say Edelman's second-quarter punt return "really sparked us."

We could have a new Patriot Nation folk hero in the making.

"Julian has been a guy who is good with the ball in his hands," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said, referring to the touchdown return. "He has done that through camp, and he made a nice cut there and there were a couple of guys who had him and he cut back and took it to the end zone. But he has done that, he ran the ball a lot in college and the opportunities he has had in training camp, he has shown up there, too."

It was easy to see why Edelman has been compared to Wes Welker, who didn't play Thursday night.

The Boston Globe posted video of Edelman's postgame interview. Don't expect any revealing comments from the rookie, who doesn't get too excited about his NFL debut -- another reason for Belichick to love him.

"I know I have a long way to go," Edelman said. "I have a lot to learn."