The New England Patriots haven’t had a Swiss Army knife-type player since Troy Brown retired in 2008. Troy Brown’s regular role was wide receiver, but he also returned punts on special teams, subbed in as a defensive back when injuries riddled the secondary, and was the Patriots’ emergency option at quarterback. With injuries once again decimating the Patriots’ secondary, Bill Belichick has had to be creative to find depth. It seems as though he has finally found a new Troy Brown in WR Julian Edelman. Edelman has shown tremendous versatility in filling multiple roles on the team.
Not only is Edelman filling these roles, he’s filling these roles well.
In Sunday’s game against the Eagles, Edelman played on two special teams units; kickoff coverage and punt return. While he had a quiet day as a punt returner (2 returns for 13 yards), he did return a punt for a touchdown last week against the Chiefs. On defense, he played 16 snaps as a defensive back, making 3 tackles, one of which was a touchdown saver on a scrambling Vince Young. He even blitzed on one play and laid a nice hit on Young, who was a little slow to get up (you can see Edelman’s defensive highlights HERE). Last week against the Chiefs and two weeks ago against the Jets, Edelman had one tackle.
Of course, let’s not forget his regular role on offense. Edelman played 23 snaps as the team’s third wide receiver, though he did not have any catches. In college, Edelman was a quarterback, so I wouldn’t rule him out of that role should there be an emergency situation in a game. The team’s third QB, Ryan Mallett, usually is not active on game days. Therefore, if both Tom Brady and back-up Brian Hoyer were be injured in the same game, Edelman would be the natural choice to step in.
Belichick values players that can provide depth in multiple roles, and Julian Edelman is proving his worth to the Patriots each week in his new roles. If Edelman continues to improve on defense, could he find himself switching more permanently over to the defense?