FOXBORO, Mass. — New England Patriots players tend not to dwell on the past. That lesson is drilled into their heads early and often from head coach Bill Belichick.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman isn’t forgetting everything that happened last season, however, and it’s natural that he’s going into 2014 with increased confidence after he caught 105 passes for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns.
“Confidence is built through execution, and in practice when you do it consistently,” Edelman said Sunday after training camp. “When you’re out there, and you’re consistently doing the right assignment, making a play, doing what you have to do at a high rate, that’s when you go out and you play your fastest and you play your most confident.”
Edelman isn’t thinking about his impressive stats from 2013, though.
“As far as results and all that stuff, that means nothing because this is a completely new year,” Edelman said.
Edelman was having a strong training camp until he was matched up with cornerback Darrelle Revis on Saturday in full pads. Revis picked off two passes from quarterback Tom Brady intended for Edelman. Fortunately, Revis is probably the toughest cornerback that Edelman will have to face all year, and the more he’s able to compete against Revis, the better he’ll be prepared for challenges during the regular season.
“It’s good to go against all different sorts of guys because everyone’s a little different, and that’s how it is in the NFL,” Edelman said. “You’re gonna play against a big guy, you’re going to play against a smart guy. … You’re gonna play against those kinds of guys and every time you match up against someone different, it’s a good experience for you because you’re just putting that in your artillery for what you have to do to beat a guy like that.”
Edelman focused on the receiving aspect of his game through the first three practices, but he was back returning punts in practice with Danny Amendola and running back Roy Finch on Sunday. Edelman isn’t ready to give up his job as the team’s chief punt returner just because he had a 1,000-yard season.
“That’s a part of the game that gave me an opportunity to make this team,” Edelman said. “I love returning punts. I love Coach (Scott) O’Brien. I love the scheme. I love all that stuff. I want to do that. I would love to do that. If they ask me to do it, I’m going to do it with a smile on my face.”
Edelman might not replicate his 100-catch season, especially if tight end Rob Gronkowski is back and healthy, but it’s obvious that he’s still one of Brady’s favorite targets during practice. Edelman still looks like the Patriots’ best wide receiver, despite some impressive practices from Amendola and second-year receiver Kenbrell Thompkins.