Julian Edelman Giving Patriots a Boost As Team’s Primary Kickoff Returner


FOXBORO, Mass. — Wide receiver Julian Edelman has adjusted nicely to his role as the Patriots' top kick returner.

He is ranked 10th in the NFL with an average of 26.0 yards in four returns through two weeks, and he has displayed the same dynamic of electricity and explosion that made him one of the league's best punt returners in 2010.

"It's been all right," Edelman said. "Obviously, we've got a long way to go. We haven't done anything crazy, but our job is to give our offense decent field position to go to work."

He said there isn't much carryover between being a punt returner and kick returner, noting there's a lot more scheming in punts. There's typically more space to work with as a punt returner, and coverage units converge much quicker on kick returners.

Edelman, who was second in the NFL with 15.3 yards per punt return, is eighth this season with 11.8 yards over five returns. Obviously, the coaching staff knew he had the ability to succeed in both areas, and it likely played a role in their decision to release wide receiver Brandon Tate.

Edelman, who averaged 21.9 yards in 11 kickoff returns in 2009, said he didn't do anything differently in the offseason to prepare for an expanded special teams role in 2011.

"I just prepared this offseason like I prepared any offseason," Edelman said. "I don't think I changed it just for that."

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