Tuesday’s joint practice between the New England Patriots and Houston Texans reunited two of the best wide receivers in recent Patriots history: Julian Edelman and Wes Welker.
But while Edelman continues to ply his trade as a Patriots wideout, Welker earlier this year pivoted to a different profession: coaching.
Texans head coach Bill O’Brien, who previously coached Welker as a position coach and offensive coordinator in New England, in January hired the retired receiver as an offensive/special teams assistant — Welker’s first full-time coaching job.
Edelman, a teammate of Welker’s from 2009 to 2012, was not surprised to hear about the 36-year-old’s new gig.
“Wes is such a smart, intelligent football player,” Edelman told reporters Tuesday at the Texans’ training camp facility in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. “He played a lot of years. He’s a grinder, meaning he earned everything he got. He didn’t start on third (base). He had to have a long journey to get to being, ultimately, a revolutionary player who basically created a position.”
Edelman would know. That position — slot receiver — is the one he’s played for the Patriots since Welker left the team in 2013.
Welker posted superb numbers during his six seasons in New England, surpassing 100 catches and 1,100 receiving yards in five of them. In his worst year with the Patriots, he still caught 86 balls for 848 yards and scored seven touchdowns.
For comparison’s sake, Edelman has been one of the Patriots’ best offensive players in the four seasons since Welker’s departure, and he’s only cracked 100 catches and 1,100 receiving yards once.
“Being in the locker room with him for so many years and being able to pick his brain and seeing just from how he practiced and how he played, it doesn’t surprise me at all (that Welker is coaching), because he was such a student of the game,” Edelman told reporters. “He knew just about everything, so it was one of those things where being a coach, you know, it’s a grind. It’s a huge thing, but he’s a football guy. He loves the sport.”
In addition to Welker and O’Brien, the Texans also employ former Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel (now Houston’s assistant head coach/defense) and ex-Pats players Mike Vrabel (defensive coordinator) and Larry Izzo (special teams coordinator).
Thumbnail photo via Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports Images