FOXBORO, Mass. — If Julian Edelman goes off Sunday, New York Jets fans can blame No. 24.
The New England Patriots receiver on Thursday credited Darrelle Revis for making him better while competing in practice last season. Revis and Edelman had some epic battles during Patriots training camp as teammates two summers ago, and now they face off in Week 7’s matchup.
“(Revis) made me a better player,” Edelman said. “He’s an elite corner, and I’d say he’s probably one of the best in the league. Going against him definitely made me a better receiver last year. It was good to have him.”
Edelman was modest when asked if he also made Revis a better cornerback during those practice showdowns.
“I don’t know, man. He’s seen a lot of guys,” Edelman said. “He’s seen a lot of star receivers that are studs. I was just a measly little guy.”
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski disagrees with Edelman’s assessment of himself.
“Julian? No, he’s not just some guy,” Gronkowski said. “Julian’s a great player. He comes in every day ready to work. No matter who he’s (against), he’s going to go in and work as hard as he can if it’s (against) the best player in the league or (against) a rookie playing his first game. It doesn’t matter. He comes in with the preparation and mindset to always be ready.”
Edelman and Revis last shared the field as opponents in 2013, when the cornerback played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers mostly played zone coverage, and Revis didn’t match up with Edelman. It remains to be seen how the Jets will try to cover Edelman, but if they shadow the small, shifty receiver with Revis, he’s embracing the challenge.
“I love it,” Edelman said. “You go out every day, and you try to improve on the practice field. When you’re going against elite guys — it wasn’t just (Revis) last year, we had other guys. We had (Brandon) Browner, we had (Malcolm Butler), we had a little bit of everything — it’s going to make you better, and that’s what you strive to do. That’s the competitor in you, to try to go out and improve. The better you make yourself, the better the team gets. It’s one of those things where, if you enjoy doing that, it can benefit you.”
Edelman leads the Patriots with 40 catches for 449 receiving yards and 490 all-purpose yards. The Jets could use shifty slot cornerback Buster Skrine on Edelman and have Revis and Antonio Cromartie handle the Patriots’ bigger targets, including Gronkowski. The big tight end also said Revis made him a better player.
“He was a great player, so every time in practice last year you can go up against a player with such a skill set, you just try to get better as a player, myself,” Gronkowski said. “He just comes in, ready to work, he’s a professional, and he’s always ready to play the game.”
Thumbnail photo via Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports Images