ATLANTA — When the calendar turns to January and February, New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman turns into a different player.

Since 2013, when Edelman became a regular starter, he’s averaged 6.5 catches and 69.8 yards per regular season game. Yet he averages 8 catches and 99.7 yards per postseason game in that same timespan.

So, why is that?

“Julian prepares well,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday. “He’s a very competitive player. He’s got good skills. He plays extremely hard. He’s a very competitive guy. Unselfish, whatever we ask him to do, he’s always willing to do it, gives his best. He does a lot of things to help other players around him play better or achieve success.

“I think we all really respect him for that and appreciate what he does to help the football team in so many areas going back to when he played defense for us in playoff games. Obviously, he’s returned kicks for us in games and made a lot of plays on offense, as well. He’s always there, and we can always count on him.”

Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty is getting his first taste of playoff Edelman, and he believes it comes down to mentality.

“His work ethic,” McCourty said. “I mean, that guy, he comes to compete every single day. Not only on Sundays but every day on the practice field. Jules is a guy, he’ll walk into the locker room, and he’s yelling something, he’s fired up, he’s ready to go.

“He’s a guy, every time I get there in the morning, he’s probably already been there for an hour. A guy that’s one of the first ones in, one of the last ones out, and that’s just who he is as a person. He always plays with a chip on his shoulder and one of the guys that’s a leader just because of how he plays and how productive he is.”

The Patriots will need Edelman to continue to be his postseason self Sunday when the Patriots take on the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Edelman already has 16 catches for 247 yards in the 2018 playoffs. He needs just 44 more receiving yards to tie Michael Irvin for second all-time in postseason history. He’s already second all-time behind Jerry Rice for most postseason receptions with 105.

Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images