After a hot start to the season, Julian Edelman has just seven catches for 66 yards in the last three games, part of a difficult three-game skid for the Patriots passing offense. Now, with two-straight losses, Edelman acknowledged the urgency in Foxborough was high.
"It's pretty urgent here always, especially after a loss and then doubling down and having two in a row," said Edelman. "What we have to do, try to focus on what we can control and what we can learn from those things. Try to really hone down on our preparation process and our practicing, and build our confidence through that and go out and try to play our best football this upcoming weekend."
Now, with a full week of practice back under his belt, Edelman is hoping for an offensive resurgence and more performances like they had in Seattle, where Edelman had eight catches for 179 yards.
"I never thought it would come to this but I was pretty excited to go out and practice and have a regular week," said Edelman. "It's a huge part of how you build confidence with a young unit and a young team, when you go out and you can see yourself do it on film, you can see the guy next to you doing the right thing on film in practice and actually getting a better experience doing it."
With this weekend's matchup against his hometown team, Edelman recalled how much he looked up to Jerry Rice, now the only player with more post-season receptions (151) than Edelman (118).
"A lot of great memories of mine were growing up and supporting and loving the San Francisco 49ers," said Edelman. "I would definitely say Jerry Rice has been a huge inspiration on me as a football player and [from his] work ethic, him and my father. Growing up in Redwood City, they had Edgewood Park and there was Jerry Rice Hill and it was the folklore. It was known that Jerry Rice used to go up and run that hill and everyone knew about his work ethic."
Edelman ran that same hill while in college and now, many years later the veteran is looking to lead his offense back on track against the team he loved as a kid.
"It's not the first time we've ever lost a game here and it definitely sucks, it is what it is," said Edelman. "You gotta put that in the past, have a short memory and focus on what we can control and that's our preparation process and practice."
Jennings seeing uptick
After seeing just 11 defensive snaps in the first two games, rookie Anfernee Jennings has seen more playing time the last two weeks, with 25 percent of the snaps against the Chiefs and 44 percent against the Broncos.
The rookie is following in the footsteps of other versatile linebackers like Dont'a Hightower, Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy with the ability to play both inside and on the edge.
"It's really hard to play one, and to play both takes a good level of instinctiveness and both mental and physical versatility because the skillsets are quite different between playing off the ball and only a few inches away from a good blocking tight end or a good receiving tight end," said Bill Belichick. "Jennings did both those things at Alabama."
Jennings said Hightower has been a valuable resource to his fellow Alabama football alumni, and that the team still studies all the great past Patriots linebackers.
"We go back and pick film up from probably before I was born and watch it," said Jennings. "Whatever we can pick from their type of game and try to apply it to our game. Just really understanding that a lot of great linebackers played here before me and just trying to soak it all in and continue the legacy of special linebackers."
With an increasing role, Jennings said he continues to try and be a sponge.
"I'm still picking it up, still learning," said Jennings. "I think what helped me a lot is just playing in the system that I played in at Alabama, where we were a multiple defense.
"Being versatile and being a smart player, making the most of every snap that I get and practice so that the coaches and the players can gain the trust in me."
"[Jennings] had quite a bit on his plate in college, and I think that the volume of what he has now is certainly manageable, maybe a little bit more," said Belichick. "But, he's a good football player with, as I said, some versatility and ability to do some different things. We'll continue to try to see where he fits in our defensive scheme and game plan on a weekly basis."
James White returned to the Patriots final practice of the week after missing two days for non-injury-related reasons. White should be available to play against the 49ers on Sunday, while new addition Carl Davis missed his second-straight session and James Ferentz remains absent after going on the Reserve/Covid-19 list last week.
Webex Quotes of Note
Gunner Olszewski on how he got through virtual meetings:
"You just do what you can. A lot of it for me is you just mentally do it in your head and go walk around your backyard. Every guy's different. I like to record the plays and then listen to them but that's just my thing and I can kind of picture myself in the huddle. I think everybody has a way because when we came back the ball is rolling and I think everybody was rolling so I think we did a good job paying attention to those meetings as hard as it was. Lotta coffee."
Chase Winovich on the complexities of playing on the edge in the Patriots system:
"That's kind of a tough question because it's very situational, it depends on the down and distance, depends on the defense, it depends on the number of rushers we have, personnel we have on the field, depends on the stunt, it's a very situational thing. Sometimes it definitely is a little complicated outside."
Joe Thuney on getting David Andrews back at practice:
"Getting Dave back on the practice field's been great. You know he's so great communicating and just a great center to have. It's been awesome having him back, we'll see how things go but everyone's glad he's back. He's a great force in the middle."