FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Wide receiver Julian Edelman returned to the practice field Thursday, giving the Patriots an offensive lift and reuniting him with his teammates after extended time missed due to a foot injury and subsequent setback.
"It felt good," he said of the return. "It's always exciting to get back out there with the teammates and start a new year and get on the field. It was exciting."
Though Edelman is among the most experienced receivers on the roster, he understands that he's behind from an on-field work standpoint and has to hit the ground running, literally.
"Right now I'm ultimately focused on just trying to get out here and catch up with the train," he said. "The train's been moving."
The 27-year old didn't seem to show many signs of rust in practice, though he said he's still working to get back to his playing shape.
"Obviously, it's new right now, so I definitely I have to get my legs under me, work my way in and try to get a spot," Edelman remarked.
While he was off the field, Edelman was able to keep up on the playbook through attending team meetings and familiarity with the offensive system.
"This is going to be my fifth year here, so the terminology and all that is kind of my strength right now," he said. "There is new stuff and I have a long way to improve, but that definitely helped."
Now that's he's back in the mix, Edelman will compete for a spot in a receiving corps that features six rookies, some of whom may stand as his closest competition for playing time. As a veteran of the group, Edelman has provided the rookies a resource to lean on when they have had questions about the playbook, but said he hasn't focused on evaluating how the young wideouts look on the field.
"I've been in all the meetings and if they ever have a question they ask," Edelman said. "I try to help them out as much as possible. As far as what do I think, I'm not paid to evaluate talent, I'm more worried about my situation and trying to develop my game."
QUICK-HIT FOOTBALL THOUGHTS: Though it was Edelman's first day back on the field, it was hard to tell he had suffered through a long-term foot issue. He looked quick, elusive, precise in his route work, and his conditioning seemed to be a comfortable level. Though he didn't take full reps in every drill, he was active throughout practice, occasionally doing wind sprints on his own during team drills. He caught the ball extremely well, both as a receiver and a punt returner. Though he had some struggles with catching the ball early in last training camp, talent has not often been the issue for Edelman. Rather, durability and staying on the field has hindered him of late. He has the skills to be a prominent receiver in this offense, and we'd say he looked very sharp during his first day back.