New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (11) carries the ball during the fourth quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium. The New England Patriots won 59-24. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Belichick speaks on Julian Edelman, Aqib Talib

New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman was activated off of the PUP list yesterday, as the foot injury he had a setback on is all healed up, and he reportedly hasn’t looked rusty or been hampered by the injury either. That’s certainly great news for Edelman, who has admitted (Bill Belichick said as much yesterday) to having to play catch-up as a result of the fantastic play by the rookies. Kenbrell Thompkins looks ready to lock up a roster spot as the No. 5 receiver, Aaron Dobson looks every bit what the Patriots have envisioned him at the “X”, and Josh Boyce is a versatile and smart wideout who looks poised to challenge Edelman for the “Z” spot in three-wide sets.

The rookies have played so well that Mike Reiss actually sees Edelman as the Patriots No. 5 receiver with Thompkins above him as the No. 4, but I’m higher on Edelman. He showed us a lot more playmaking ability last season when the Patriots started using him right in November, and he can ball when’s healthy. Health is obviously a major question for Edelman, but he’s more than just a mediocre slot receiver. In fact, he’s not even a real slot receiver and should instead be used as a versatile receiver who can generate mismatches using a varied combination of routes.

Bill Belichick still believes that Julian Edelman has some more ground to make up, as he said this at today’s press conference, from CSNNE, “I’m sure it helps some. It’s better that he’s been here and done some things and knows how to do them than not. But he’s still got a long way to go. He missed all of spring, he’s missed all of training camp. Long way to go.”

Edelman’s roster spot is completely safe, especially since I could never see Kamar Aiken or Michael Jenkins taking a roster spot away from Edelman, who showed plenty of ability at stretches last season. The Patriots know how to use his improved long speed better, and that should lead to a good year out of Edelman in 2013 if he can stay healthy.

Aqib Talib is somebody who is headed for a huge year, and this could be the year where Talib puts his elite talent into a consistently elite season and actually becomes an elite player instead of an inconsistent cover corner. This offseason, Talib has seemingly taken more of a leadership role, especially when it comes to helping out Alfonzo Dennard, who really impressed as a rookie. The Talibisms are in full force, he is doing an incredible job at camp (two picks against Tom Brady, whom he has some friendly smack with, at one practice in addition to great coverage on Danny Amendola), and all the pieces are there for a truly big year from Talib.

Belichick was asked about Talib’s leadership role as well, and Belichick replied with a simple answer that deserves a read. “He doesn’t have a lot of experience on our team but he has a lot of experience in the league on that position. He brings an element of leadership and experience to that position. Guys look up to him.”

That last sentence is a large part of what leadership is, and it’s great to hear the news of both great play from Talib in camp, as well as some key intangibles.

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Tags: Aqib Talib Bill Belichick Julian Edelman New England Patriots NFL Offseason

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