Is Edelman a real defensive threat?
By Kisha Tapangan
The ability to execute in a variety of positions seems to be the norm
for the New England Patriots
With wide receiver dabbling at defensive back, tight end Aaron Hernandez
at running back and even Tom Brady
kicking a pretty
impressive punt. The Patriots excel at finding different skills within
their players and exploiting them against unassuming opponents.
When Wes Welker
was injured in 2009, the need for a slot receiver was a
top concern and seventh round pick Julian Edelman
was more than happy
to step up. The Kent State
alum excelled at quarterback in college and
since then have played offense, special teams and because of a growing
list of injuries, defense for the Patriots.
|Edelman as a
Giants wide receiver Mario Manningham
made quite the statement at media
day about Julian Edelman playing defensive back.
"To our advantage, I hope he's out there … It's a different
stage,".Manningham said. "This ain't regular season. That ain't your
real position, so we're going to try to expose you. It's all or nothing
now. That ain't your position. This is the Super Bowl and we want you
to play that position."
Manningham has reason to be confident, until this season, Edelman
hasn't had to play as a defensive back since he was 12 years old in Pop
But something has to be said for Edelman's efforts since 16 different
players have filled a defensive back position; Edelman was still chosen
to play throughout the playoffs. Edelman managed 18 total tackles with
13 of them being solo efforts.
Bill Belichick explained that he had confidence in what Edelman was
doing. "Julian will be ready to go on everything as he always is,"
Belichick told the media. "Based on game plan, and how it goes, we'll
see how that all turns out, he will be ready for all three phases."
The Patriots nickel and dime formation that included Edelman proved to
be efficient during their first match-up of the season, even if it was
a loss for the Patriots.
Against the Baltimore Ravens
in the AFC Championship game, Edelman was
responsible for Anquan Boldin
and his inexperience as a defensive back
were somewhat exposed. For Super Bowl XLVI, receiving corps is even
more explosive with Victor Cruz
, Hakeem Nicks
and of course,
With the Giants offense voicing their doubts on Edelman's efforts, the
utility player confidently responded.
"I don't think I've had that many balls caught on me." Edelman noted to
reporters. "Not to say that I've been doing such a great job, but the
coaches have done a great job of helping me out with the scheme and
preparing me each week on what I have to focus on, instead of focusing
on the big picture of the defense.."
When asked about his thoughts on Manningham's choice words, Edelman
answers in usual Patriot fashion.
"I am not really worried about what Mario Manningham is saying right
now. I am more focused on doing my job, and that is preparing right
now," Edelman said. "We will see if that opportunity comes ahead of us
in the game."
When it comes down to it, Julian Edelman has been effective enough as a
defensive back. With the help of other defensive backs such as Kyle Arrington
and Devin McCourty
, Edelman may not have to be anything more
Something else to keep in mind is if Edelman's services will be needed
more in offense since the status of Rob Gronkowski
's ankle is still
England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) and wide receiver Julian
Edelman (11) celebrate after Gronkowski scored a touchdown against the
Denver Broncos during the first half of the 2011 AFC divisional playoff
game at Gillette Stadium. (Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE) 1/14/2012
Interesting to think that it was simple request from Bill Belichick
that changed the dynamic of the all-purpose player,
"Coach (Bill Belichick) told me that I would be in a defensive meeting
that day and that's what we did. You're not going to say no to an
opportunity to help the team win."
Kisha Tapangan is contributing writer for Patriots
also manages the blog Necessary Roughness with Kisha.
She can also be found on twitter @KishaT.
Feel free to email her your thoughts here.
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Kisha Tapangan took a closer look at Julian Edelman's role with the Patriots defense after more Giants players called the New England multipurpose player out in the media.
Patriots WR/DB/PR is being trashed by Giants players. Yet, he remains confident.