Edelman makes impression in NFL debut

September, 21, 2009
9/21/09
10:37
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Jets spent several days and pieces of many months, preparing for Sunday's showdown with the New England Patriots.

Even so, they still couldn't conjure up the name of the Patriots rookie who recorded game-highs in receptions and yardage in the Jets' 16-9 victory at the Meadowlands.

"I don't know the guy's name, No. 11," Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis said.

Patriots receiver Julian Edelman had the Jets racking their brains and reporters in the press box scurrying for their media guides.

"They had a young man step up for them that did a great job," Jets coach Rex Ryan said, conspicuously not mentioning Edelman by name. "I was shocked when Welker wasn't playing."

Patriots fans and regular readers of this blog know all about Edelman, the seventh-round draft pick out of Kent State, a quarterback Bill Belichick's staff converted into a receiver who plays an awful lot like Wes Welker.

Edelman made his NFL debut Sunday in place of Welker, who was scratched because of a knee injury. Edelman had eight catches for 98 yards and would have had a touchdown if Tom Brady hadn't overthrown him near the goal line.

"He was another Wes Welker guy out there," Revis said. "He made a lot of plays. We tried to treat him like Wes Welker coming in."

When it comes to a healthy Welker and Edleman, it's probably not a case of either-or. Edelman has been on the injury report with a sore ankle, and while we can't be sure whether he was deactivated for Week 1 because of the injury or a personnel choice, Brady indicated it was the former.

Welker and Edelman frequently were on the field together with the first-team offense early in training camp.

"He’s a tough kid, works really hard," Brady said. "I think he had a good week in practice, and he's going to build on this. He made some nice plays out there. He's done a pretty good job for being an ex-quarterback. He's kind of a tough competitor, so when Wes gets back it's going to be a good group."

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