Edelman helps Pats to victory in multiple ways

Edelman helps Pats to victory in multiple ways
November 22, 2011, 6:46 am
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FOXBORO -- Earlier this month, Julian Edelman was charged with one count of indecent assault and battery for allegedly groping a woman at a Boston nightclub.

Some believed it would have resulted in his release from the New England Patriots. Those people were wrong.

And several weeks later, Edelman isn't just "still on the roster." He's playing a role in Patriots wins, like he did on Monday night against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Edelman finished Monday's 34-3 win at Gillette Stadium with two punt returns for 81 yards a touchdown. That 72-yard punt-return touchdown came with 9:24 left in the third quarter, and put New England up 24-3.

At that point, the game was out of reach. And afterwards, he spoke to the media, but only talked football.

"I've been advised not to talk about it," said Edelman, when asked if he'd like to comment on the assault and battery allegations.

Edelman said he uses football as a way to escape from all the noise that's come with his off-the-field issue.

"It's been pretty challenging, but all I can do is come out here and get away from everything else, and focus on my job," said Edelman. "And that's what I've been doing."

On Sunday night, his job was more than returning punts. Edelman also saw plenty of time on defense, mainly in third-down sets.

"I'll do whatever I can to help the team," said Edelman. "We were a little thin, and I'm not going to say no to an opportunity."

Edelman played a handful of defensive snaps in garbage time last week, but other than that, just a few times he played safety as a freshman in high school.

"It's definitely a new experience," said Edelman. "But like I said, whatever the coaches ask me to do, I'm going to go out there and try to do my best.

"It's tough because you've got to do stuff going backwards. You've got to be fluid. I mean, those guys are good. It's tough. Just a totally different experience."

Returning punts is nothing new to him, though. With his third-quarter punt return touchdown, Edelman became the fourth Patriots player with two or more punt returns for a touchdown, just one behind the leader, Troy Brown.

Edelman called Brown the "swiss army knife" after Sunday's win, acknowledging that Brown was a receiver who also returned punts and saw some time on the defensive side of the ball.

But both players are better known for their punt return skills, and Edelman proved that tonight, even if he also finished the game with a solo tackle.

Bill Belichick has been known to bring on players who can play multiple positions, and Edelman is proving to be one of those players.

"Well, he's learning how to play defense," said Belichick. "Hes got a long way to go, but hes working hard, he's getting reps and he's getting better at it. Weve been talking about the return game for quite a while. I feel like weve been close to breaking off a big play one block away or one better hold-up or just one thing, and we got it today. Our punt return team has been doing a good job. Theyve been working hard, weve been close, and it was satisfying for them and for all of us, really, for that to happen, because I do feel like weve been close.

"Those guys work hard and Julian has worked hard trying to make it happen . . . It was a big play in the game, I think it really I dont want to say put it out of reach but it certainly put a big gap in the game."