How Julian Edelman Balances Playing Smart With Desire To ‘Go 120’

FOXBORO, Mass. — Julian Edelman went airborne multiple times during last Sunday’s win over the New York Jets, crashing hard to the MetLife Stadium turf on two separate occasions.

The New England Patriots wide receiver, who’s made a living absorbing bone-crushing hits from much larger defenders, was asked Friday whether he ever thinks about preserving his body when he’s on the field. Is it the best idea to allow yourself to be cartwheeled through the air like that?

His answer was enlightening.

Edelman, who missed all of last season with a torn ACL, said he’d much rather deal with an awkward fall if it means avoiding another potential knee injury, especially following the NFL’s ban on hits to the head.

“I mean, sometimes you feel like you’re preserving yourself (when you go airborne),” he said, “because with the new rules, they’re not going to hit you high. So I’d rather tumble and fall on a back or a shoulder than have my knees taken out, which is the route this league’s going. So sometimes, that is that kind of decision.”

Edelman knows, though, that there’s danger on every play in the NFL, especially when you play the perilous position of slot receiver.

“The game is unpredictable,” the 32-year-old said. “You try to control the chaos, but you can’t always control the chaos. Sometimes, you bite your lip. Sometimes, you just jump. And when you’re in that air, you’re by the grace of God. So I don’t know.”

Since returning from suspension in Week 5, Edelman ranks second among Patriots pass-catchers with 44 receptions for 510 yards and is tied for the team lead with three receiving touchdowns. He’s been limited with foot, heel and ankle injuries at times but was removed from the injury report ahead of Sunday’s matchup with the Minnesota Vikings.

“I’m going to go out there, and I’m going to play hard,” Edelman said. “And obviously, you’ve got to play smart the older you get in this league. But I go 120 (miles per hour). That’s just what I do. Unfortunately, it’s a strength and a weakness.”

Thumbnail photo via Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports Images

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