ATLANTA - Pats Maven had the chance to cover Julian Edelman in his first training camp. Edelman was assigned the duties of punt returner. In his first practice returning punts, Edelman dropped almost every one of the punts. He just kept working to the point where he returned a punt for a touchdown in his first preseason game against Philadelphia. Belichick revisited when he scouted Edelman on a trip to Kent State in 2009.
Edelman, who finished the Patriots’ Super Bowl win with 10 receptions for 141 yards, had never played receiver before entering the NFL. The Pats decided to convert Edelman to a receiver - just thinking that he had the intelligence and toughness to play the position.
“We’re not thinking he can play quarterback, so we’re like, ‘OK what would we do with Julian? Is he a receiver? Is he a punt returner? Is he a defensive back? Is he maybe a guy who can play multiple positions in the kicking game?’ So we went on and worked him out [twice],” Belichick said on Monday morning after beating the Rams 13-3 for his sixth title as the Patriots coach. “We weren’t really sure what to do with him, and he caught passes, which he hadn’t done before, and returned kicks, which he hadn’t done before, and played defense, which he hadn’t done before, in addition to covering kicks and all the other things on special teams.
“Nobody has worked harder than Julian in may career to develop his skills and his craft at another position aside from maybe Stephen Neal.”
Belichick praised Edelman’s first postseason game, which ironically occurred in 33-14 blowout loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Belichick also recalled Edelman's performance against Ohio State when he was in college. That was a blowout loss too. Edelman fought even though Kent State had no chance of winning and he fought harder as the game went on.
Belichick's favorite performance might have been when the Pats beat the Ravens in the 2014 playoffs after being down 28-14.
“He played that [Ravens game] the way he played Ohio State against Kent State,” Belichick said. “Catching a slip screen on fourth-and-10 and breaking five tackles to get a first down. So it’s an incredible story.”