FOXBORO, Mass. — Some NFL veterans would bristle at the notion of helping a rookie learn the ropes, especially one who plays the same position.
Julian Edelman is not one of those veterans.
The 33-year-old New England Patriots receiver has taken an active role in helping first-round draft pick N’Keal Harry adjust to the NFL game, with Harry saying last month he’s “just following (Edelman’s) lead.”
After Wednesday’s minicamp practice, Edelman explained why he’s felt the desire to be both teammate and mentor to the promising Arizona State product.
“I had teammates that help you, and then you had teammates that didn’t,” Edelman said. “I like to be known as a guy that helped you. I like to give little pointers here and there, because the better we all are, the better the team is going to be. I like going out and trying to give information if they want information from me and go from there. It’s part of my job, I guess.”
When Edelman was a Patriots rookie in 2009, former Pro Bowl running back Fred Taylor offered him valuable guidance. He hopes to do the same for Harry, who faces high expectations as the first Patriots receiver drafted in the first round during the Bill Belichick era
“Especially in the National Football League for a rookie, there’s going to be bad days,” Edelman said. “There’s going to be good days. There’s going to be days where you don’t do anything. A guy by the name of Fred Taylor would tell me my rookie year, when I would get a ride from him at the Residence Inn in his Range Rover, he would say, ‘Hey, rook. It’s a roller coaster. You’ve got to just ride that ride and hopefully keep it level-minded.’ And that’s what I would try to say to (Harry).
“Our (receiver) room’s got a lot of other guys who are in there competing. It’s exciting. … You’ve got a lot of guys in there working hard, and we’re going to need that, because it’s only going to make us better.”
Less than a week into organized team activities, Harry said advice he’d received from Edelman already had helped him improve his route-running. The following weekend, the two wideouts met up with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for a private throwing session.
Harry, who boasts a 6-foot-2, 228-pound frame and enviable physical tools, has logged frequent reps with Brady during the team’s three-day mandatory minicamp, though he’s largely been held off the stat sheet by All-Pro cornerback Stephen Gilmore in 11-on-11 drills. Edelman likes what he’s seen from the 21-year-old, whom he expects to make an immediate impact this season.
“He’s a big kid, and he works hard,” Edelman said. “We’re going to need him to play well. We’re going to need everyone to play well. He’s just a young guy that comes in, works hard. It’s tough to play receiver here, and he’s doing a good job at that by not making the same mistakes.
“I’m not a coach — you’ve got to ask Coach Joe (Judge) on that one — but I like his attitude. I like his body. He’s got a big body, and he’s got some nice abs, too. So hopefully he comes in and helps us right away.”
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images