Patriots Need to Find New Ways to Get the Ball in Julian Edelman’s Hands

Patriots Need to Find New Ways to Get the Ball in Julian Edelman's Hands The Patriots appeared to strike it rich by landing wide receiver Julian Edelman in the seventh round of the 2009 draft, as he showed some tremendous flashes throughout his rookie season. However, Edelman's role scaled back in 2010, and it's obviously too early to tell how he'll be used in 2011.

Roster Competition
Edelman, Chad Ochocinco, Wes Welker, Deion Branch, Brandon Tate, Taylor Price, Matthew Slater and Darnell Jenkins, among others, will compete for five to seven spots.

Why He'll Make the Team
Edelman is a dynamic athlete who is extremely elusive, and he can be an asset as a slot receiver and returner on special teams. Plus, he's still learning the position after playing quarterback in college, so it's natural to expect a continual progression. Edelman also bulked up this offseason, and the added muscle should make him a much more durable player while getting knocked around over the middle of the field.

Why He Might Not Make the Team
While Edelman has been a tremendous backup as a slot receiver, he hasn't exactly done a lot when Welker has been on the field. In the five games that Welker has missed over the last two seasons — including the 2009 season finale when he was injured early against the Texans — Edelman has 27 receptions for 317 yards and two touchdowns. In every other game, he has 24 receptions for 184 yards and one touchdown. He is obviously an asset, but the Patriots haven't found a way to maximize his talent while Welker is also in the lineup. Edelman has also struggled to stay healthy at times through two seasons.

Bottom Line
There's no way Edelman should be cut, frankly, but the best slot receiver in the game is ahead of him on the depth chart, which limits Edelman's chances. The Patriots should give him more reps in the slot, and he should also get more of a look in the return game. If Edelman can stay healthy, he should contribute in a bigger way in 2011.

This was the final post in a series that spotlighted players who might be on the Patriots' bubble watch.

Thursday, July 28: Safety James Sanders

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