Julian Edelman knows firsthand how hard the Seahawks defense plays, and hits.
Down 10 points in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl 49 and facing a critical 3rd-and-14, Edelman caught a dig route from Tom Brady and absorbed a monster hit from Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor, holding on to the ball and picking up the first down. Edelman would go on to catch the Super Bowl-winning touchdown on the next drive, cementing his place in Patriots history.
Given that experience, along with a 2016 loss to the Seahawks which saw Edelman grab seven catches for 99 yards, the veteran receiver knows what he's in for on Sunday night.
"They've always been a very fundamentally sound football team that will hit you," said Edelman on Thursday of the Seahawks, "especially adding [Jamal] Adams over there, he likes to hit. They're a physical group, they play hard, they play the game the way it should be played and it's gonna be a great test."
Edelman will be a critical piece of the offensive attack against the Seahawks, but both teams look a lot different than their previous two matchups.
"Each year has its own little differences," said Edelman. "There's a lot of turnover in the National Football League on every team. Obviously, it's been different on ours with the quarterback position but it's been exciting to go out and see this team and see how it grows."
A win in Seattle would show some major growth for the Patriots but Edelman knows how tough a test awaits them.
"Coach Carroll he gets them hyped," said Edelman. "They just play sound defense. They kind of do what they do, coach Carroll's the first to say that. It's very hard to beat them there. We've got to execute."
Praise for Wilson
Russell Wilson has given the Patriots all they could handle in three matchups against them since 2012. While Patriots might only want to remember Super Bowl 49, Wilson is 2-0 against the other games, completing 64 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and no interceptions.
"Honestly, I think he's in a way maybe underrated by the media or the fans, I don't know, but I mean I don't really see anybody better than this player," said Bill Belichick of Wilson. "He can do everything. He's got obviously great leadership, playmaking skills. He plays very well in the most critical situations in the game – his decision-making, running, passing. His passing numbers are extraordinary. You could put him up against anybody since he's been in the league, literally anybody, in any category, really."
The Patriots defense knows they'll have their hands full with Wilson, who can make plays from anywhere on the field, but is at his best late in downs.
"You've got to do a good job of containing those guys and when things break down continue to play on extended plays," said linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley. "It's a big part of the game, whether it's Russell, which is our next game or anybody else, we got to be ready for those extended plays and try to prevent them as much as possible."
But keeping Wilson contained is no easy task as Brandon Copeland pointed out.
"The hardest thing about tackling a guy like Russ is every time you have to tackle in space," said Copeland. "He also has a gift of instincts in the pocket, so you might feel like you're coming clean and then he might spin or he might let you think you have him, you think he doesn't know you're coming but he feels you. He's definitely a tough guy to tackle, that's why his is who is."
The Patriots continued preparations for the Seahawks on Thursday on the lower field, dressed in shorts and shells. A notable drill during the early portion open to the media was practicing containing the quarterback, with a variety of players, including defensive back Myles Bryant, scrambling around trying to break out. The team appears to have their focus locked on quarterback Russell Wilson, who Bill Belichick called "a tremendous player" in his morning press conference.
The team had the full attendance of their 53-man roster, though practice squadder Rashod Berry was not spotted.
WebEx Quotes of Note
Bill Belichick on how the Seahawks deployed new safety and former Jet Jamal Adams:
"I think they modified their system a little bit to take advantage of a very explosive and disruptive player, which is really just smart coaching and good utilization of personnel. I know Pete's philosophy is always to play into his strengths, and he does a great job of that and clearly Jamal Adams is one of their strengths. So, they did something a little bit differently with him than what they've done in the past in terms of inserting him into the pressure part of their defense, but I'd say within the overall context of what they have done fundamentally for quite a long time. It's not like they're redesigning everything but they're using one of their outstanding players in a very good way, and that causes problems for the offense."
Julian Edelman on wishing the 12th Man could be there on Sunday night in Seattle:
"I'm gonna have to say I wish they were there. I never got to play there, I missed out on a couple trips over there. I actually went to a game back in 2004 when [Seattle] went to the playoffs. I went to a playoff game and got to experience it, but I never got to experience it on the field. The energy of the crowd is a huge part of this game and the fans are a huge part. It's always fun going in going to a place that you don't necessarily go to as much and then seeing what kind of fanbase they have, see the outfits, the gestures and the signs. I was a fan once when I was a kid, that's a huge part of our game. I think it's going to be unfortunate that we won't have fans but I think the communication will be easier."
Ja'Whaun Bentley on newly promoted 53-man roster player Myles Bryant:
"Myles is definite great player and is one of those guys you love to have on your team. He brings great energy and great technique and is eager to learn, something you always love to have on your team, especially young rookies. I can't wait to see how his career flushes out because he's definitely dynamic."