Gunner Olszewski and Jakobi Meyers had an ideal mentor in their journeys from undrafted rookies to core New England Patriots contributors.
Olszewski, who took over for Edelman as New England’s primary punt returner in 2019 and became a first-team All-Pro one year later, applauded his former teammate Thursday, saying Edelman had an immeasurable impact on his young NFL career.
“I don’t think I can put it into words, man,” Olszewski said in a video conference. “He took me under his wing — me and Jakobi both, kind of being underdog receivers. Kobs was a former quarterback, and me, I didn’t play receiver, so (Edelman) kind of showed us the ropes. (Hearing he retired) sucked, but I know how he is. He wants to be his best out there, and if he don’t feel he can do that, he don’t even want to be out there.
“He’s the ultimate competitor, and that’s what I learned from him. Toughest dude I’ve ever played with.”
Olszewski, a former Division II cornerback, was asked what he’ll remember most about Edelman from their two seasons together.
“Two words: piss and vinegar,” he said, smiling. “That’s what that dude was all about. I don’t know if I can say that on here, but those are the two things I’ll never forget.”
Olszewski paused, then added: “Oh, and I’ve got two more: competitive stamina. That was his other one. I’m sure you’ve all heard that before. Those two things are stuck in there and written down in concrete.”
Last season, Olszewski broke Edelman’s single-season franchise record for yards per punt return, averaging an NFL-best 17.3 per return on 20 attempts. Meyers, a fellow 2019 UDFA, was New England’s most prolific receiver in 2020, emerging after early-season injuries to Edelman and N’Keal Harry to finish with 59 catches for 729 yards, plus two passing touchdowns.