FOXBORO -- Julian Edelman hasn't played a full slate of regular-season games since 2013. In fact, that's the only time he's played in all 16 during the course of the first seven years of his career.
He should have perfect attendance again this year, though. Edelman's seen action in all 15 games for the Patriots thus far, and he's looking forward to playing in the regular-season finale Sunday in Miami.
"That’s a big goal," Edelman said Wednesday. "I haven’t done that in awhile, so it will be good to be able to go in there and play my 16th game. That’s No. 1. That’s the No. 1 thing that we preach around here is the health of the team, and fortunately I have good health right now."
It should come as no surprise that when Edelman has been healthy, he's put up big numbers. Three seasons ago, his first with a full-time role in the offense, he caught 105 passes for 1,056 yards and six scores. The following year, in 2014, he missed just two games and ended up with 92 catches for 972 yards.
This year figures to fall in a similar range when it comes to productivity as Edelman has accumulated 90 grabs and 955 yards. How significantly he adds to those figures will depend on how much playing time he sees against the Dolphins. And if recent history is any indication, his workload will be limited.
Over the course of the last four games, likely in an effort to preserve Edelman's health, he's seen fewer snaps than both Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell. He's also been used as a punt-returner lately, which has subjected him to the possibility of absorbing a few extra hits weekly, and may have led the team wanting to counteract that additional abuse by reducing his offensive play count.
Despite a seeing a smaller percentage of the offensive snaps, Edelman continues to be Tom Brady's favorite target. Since Week 11 he's seen a whopping 75 passes thrown his way, and he's tied for sixth in the league in targets with 146. On third down, especially, Edelman is as trusted as any wideout in the league. According to STATS, Edelman is tied for third among NFL receivers with 21 first-down conversions.
"Our coaches do a good job of putting us in the right position to use our strengths," Edelman said. "I just try to go out and get open and catch the ball. If my number's called, make that play. And fortunately we've been able to execute that a few times."
Fortunately for the Patriots, they've been able to lean on Edelman to execute in those moments every week this season.