FOXBORO, Mass. — Julian Edelman‘s performance on Thursday night brought back memories of an old friend and you know exactly who.
With Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola both sidelined for the Jets’ midweek visit to Foxboro, Tom Brady had to look elsewhere to get the passing game going. Edelman was where he looked.
Where Wes Welker would have been Brady’s go-to receiver in years past, Edelman was on Thursday. Brady looked the short, shifty veteran’s way 18 times on the night, with the two linking up 13 times for 78 yards in total. The 13 receptions set a new career high for Edelman, whose previous high of 10 came in Week 17 of 2009 — not so coincidentally the same game where Welker tore his ACL.
The spectacular effort brought back some pretty obvious memories of Welker’s time in New England, and likely made many wonder how much of Edelman’s game was based off of the former Patriots now Broncos receiver.
“You learn a lot from a great player like Wes,” Edelman said after the game, freely admitting the receiver’s role in his development.
Welker had many games with double-digit grabs during his six seasons with the Patriots. Edelman was only around for four of those years, but they arguably were also Welker’s best with the team. Watching Welker during that time helped Edelman develop the excellent route-running skills and elusive quickness after the catch, at least according to Brady’s new Mr. Reliable.
“Yeah,” Edelman agreed when asked about using Welker as a model for his play. “I watched him for four years and he’s one of the best.”
Welker was proud of his mentee’s performance on the night, too, and he let the world know it on Twitter, too.
Edelman may never become the receiver that Welker was with the Patriots or will be with the Broncos going forward — it’s almost unfair to expect that of any receiver. But with Amendola and Gronkowski still on the mend, Edelman is Brady’s No. 1 option, and right now, he’s playing the role as well as Welker ever did.