Week 2 against the Jets, Julian Edelmancaught eight passes for just under 100 yards, filling in for the injured Wes Welker. But that's not what the Patriots rookie receiver remembers most about his NFL debut.
"I remember we lost, first off," Edelman told reporters Thursday. "I had a couple of catches here and there. Filled a void and helped the team out with Wes not being there. I'm looking forward to going back out there [against the Jets this Sunday] and getting a win, hopefully."
]()After breaking his arm against Tennessee, Edelman missed two games before returning this past weekend at Indianapolis. During his absence from the field, Edelman said he continued to prepare mentally by attending all the team and position meetings. That, he said, helped him stay sharp.
He didn't take many snaps in his return against the Colts, but again, Edelman made an impact, catching a first-half touchdown pass on a play that appeared to have broken down.
"Yeah, I just prepared that week like I was going to play and just filled the role, what they wanted me to do," he explained. "It was kind of a scramble and that's how it ended up, with the touchdown. I didn't get in that many plays, but whatever I can do to contribute to the team, that's what I'm here for."
Now that both he and Welker and healthy and on the field at the same time, Edelman is taking advantage of the opportunity to learn from one of the game's best receivers.
"You know, it's great to play with Wes Welker. Just watching him every day in practice and you see him in the game, a lot of the [defenders] go to him, so, it kind of opens you up because he's such a huge part of our offense. Now that we're both healthy, I get to see how he does it, which helps me a tremendous amount.
Asked what his biggest surprise is after the first nine or 10 weeks of the regular season, Edelman replied … that it's been nine or 10 weeks of the regular season.
"It's already that far, huh? It's obviously a lot longer. I went to Kent State and we didn't play any bowl games. We had the four preseason games [here] and it's emotionally, physically, and mentally demanding, but you just have to keep on going and grind through it."
With most rookies, the aspect of pro football that surprises them most is the speed at which the game is played. At this point, though, Edelman admitted that he's already starting to feel things slow down, which is helping him understand his role and the Patriots offense more.
"Yeah, for sure. Every play is an experience out there," he noted. "Every play in practice, every time you watch film, you're recognizing things a lot faster. The game's a lot faster than it is in college. When you get that little bit of experience, which I have a very little bit of, you see things a little faster."
The experience of having been a college QB is also benefiting Edelman as he makes the transition to an NFL wide receiver.
"Yeah, it helps, but this isn't college. I'm still learning every day. I have a lot to learn."
Mayo on Sanchez, red zone woes
He may have won his first encounter with the Patriots, but of late, New York Jets rookie QB Mark Sanchezhas come back down to earth. After three games, he had thrown four TDs and just 2 interceptions.
Today, however, those numbers are nine and 12, respectively.
"I mean, he's struggling a little bit now, but he's still a great quarterback," LB Jerod Mayoinsisted. "He can really run with the football, he can throw the football. He's the total package."
Keeping those numbers low is a goal of Mayo's and the Patriots defense this week. The unit ranks 28th in both red zone efficiency and goal-to-go percentage.
"The main goal of a defense is to keep people from scoring," Mayo pointed out when asked about that stat. "Unfortunately, we've been unable to do that to this point. Hopefully, we can turn it around the second half of the season."
What's been the cause of New England's struggles when opponents reach the Patriots red zone?
"I guess lack of focus," Mayo replied. "Being a young defense, we have to keep everybody focused and try to make plays."
Thursday locker room/practice notes
The Patriots donned shells and sweat pants for Thursday's workout on their training camp fields behind Gillette – the second straight day they've gone in their light pads.
WR Randy Moss, who skipped Wednesday's session for non-injury reasons, was back on the field with his teammates and was removed from the official injury report. Fellow WR Sam Aikenwas back on the field, too (hip), after missing Wednesday, as were DL Ty Warren(ankle) and LB Gary Guyton(illness).
That left just five Patriots who weren't on the field Thursday: RB Fred Taylor, LB Rob Ninkovich, G Stephen Neal, LB Tully Banta-Cain, and DL Jarvis Green.