Edelman back in punt-return role: 'It's like Frogger' avoiding hits

Edelman back in punt-return role: 'It's like Frogger' avoiding hits

Julian Edelman looked like a guy who could use some time off. 

He had just picked up a first down on a third-and-two play in the third quarter and taken a hard hit over the middle from Broncos linebacker Corey Nelson. Edelman's helmet smashed into Nelson's chest, and he was slow to get up after the play. When Edelman got to his feet, he turned to the Patriots sideline and waved as if to inform coaches he needed a breather. 


As it turned out, Edelman missed one snap. He dropped the next target that was sent his way, but moments later he came through with one of the most critical third-down conversions of the game. 

On third-and-six from the Broncos 45-yard line, he saw Tom Brady scrambling and looked for a soft spot in the defense. Eyeing Edelman, Brady floated a pass just out of reach of safety Darian Stewart and into the receiver's arms for a 17-yard gain and a fresh set of downs.

The play put the Patriots in field-goal range, helped them go up two scores, 13-3, and highlighted Edelman's knack for executing in critical moments -- despite whatever physical ailments he's dealing with.

There's a tightrope-walk element to Edelman's game in that he is arguably the second-most important offensive player on the team behind Brady, yet he finds himself in harm's way on a regular basis. That trend continued Sunday as he absorbed hits while catching six passes on 12 targets for 75 yards. He also brought back three punts for 21 yards, returning to that role with Cyrus Jones scratched from the lineup before the game.

Edelman found himself taking a particularly hard shot to end one return and let out a particularly loud expletive in response, which came through loud and clear on the CBS broadcast.

He said after the game that he enjoyed being more involved in the kicking game, comparing it to a video game where the hero regularly finds his insides splattered on the highway.

"It was good," Edelman said. "I had fun. Those are fun plays. It's like Frogger. Just a bunch of bullets going everywhere. Those are the fun plays . . . It was good to get back there and also make smart decisions."

As important as he is to the offense, and now the kicking game, it appears as though the Patriots would like to get Edelman a break whenever possible. In Denver, he played fewer snaps than both Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell for the third consecutive week, but when he's on the field he's usually the center of attention. 

In the last five games -- during which Rob Gronkowski played just seven snaps against the Jets -- Edelman has a whopping 67 targets to lead the team. 

One has to wonder if the Patriots will have the opportunity to rest Edelman for the final two games of the regular season. But with homefield throughout the playoffs up for grabs, he'll likely continue to serve as Brady's security blanket and a focal point of Josh McDaniels' attack.

The coaching staff has little choice but to continue to use Edelman as often as it does, but it may do so with its collective heart in its throat, hoping he doesn't end up feeling like a small amphibian on the wrong end of a collision with an 18-wheeler.

Former Patriots RB Danny Woodhead announces retirement

Former Patriots RB Danny Woodhead announces retirement

Former Patriots running back Danny Woodhead has announced his retirement after 10 years in the NFL.

The 33-year-old took to Instagram to make it official.

10 years! Wow, God had crazy plans for a small little kid from North Platte, NE! It’s been a wild ride and feel so blessed He allowed me to do what I loved for so long. But now it’s time to say goodbye to the game I love. First, I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Without Him my career wouldn’t have been possible. He blessed me with the gifts and He paved the way. All I had to do was follow His plans for my life, and His plans were crazy awesome! Next, I want to thank my wife who has been by my side since freshman year of high school. She has been a rock through all the ups and downs. Sis, Willy, Mae Mae, and Hopie your daddy is going to be home a ton more and I can’t wait! Thanks to my Dad and Mom for always supporting me and showing me that God is first, then everything else will fall into place. Ben, Joel, and Anna thanks for preparing me for the NFL in our backyard games growing up. The dreaded in-laws Steve and Suzie for always being there for me. Chris Gittings (agent) you’re the best and thankful your my brother/uncle! Thank you Jets, Patriots, Chargers, and Ravens! Thanks to all my head coaches (Bob Zohner, Brad Smith, Bill O’Boyle, Eric Mangini, Rex Ryan, Bill Belichick, Mike McCoy, and John Harbaugh) who believed in me! To my rbs coaches (coach skiles, coach reiners, Jimmy Raye, A Lynn, Ivan, Ollie, Ridge, and Thomas) thanks for putting up with me. Thanks to all my teammates from high school till now. Without you guys I never would’ve become who I was as a player. To all my olinemen, you guys deserve the credit for anything that I received credit for. I thank you for helping make my career. To all the trainers, team docs, strength coaches, chiropractors, massage therapists, physical therapists, body gurus thanks for making sure I was on the field. To all the people who made my life easier at the facility (ops, pr, equipment staff, cafe workers, custodians) thanks and your work doesn’t go unnoticed. And how could i forget all my fans?! You’re the best and have always felt the love and support! I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few but know that I’m thankful for everything everyone has done on my journey.

A post shared by Danny Woodhead (@teamwoody39) on

Thursday, it was reported the Patriots reached out to Woodhead for a possible reunion. 

The last two seasons have been challenging for him, as he dealt with season-ending injuries in both 2016 with the Chargers and 2017 with the Ravens.

Woodhead finishes his career with 2,238 yards rushing, 2,698 yards receiving, 15 rushing touchdowns and 17 receiving touchdowns.


NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: C's win despite injuries, Pats make additions

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: C's win despite injuries, Pats make additions

1:20 - Despite throwing a depleted roster out there, the Celtics were able to get back in the win column vs. the Magic. Michael Holley and Tommy Heinsohn break down the win.

6:17 - Finally, the Patriots have done something! On Friday night it was reported that New England signed defensive end Adrian Clayborn as well as running back Jeremy Hill. Tom Curran, Alex Giaimo and Ben Volin discuss the impact these additions will have on the team.

11:05 - While the Celtics were able to pull out the win on Friday, the team did announce that Marcus Smart is expected to miss six to eight weeks after undergoing thumb surgery. A. Sherrod Blakely expresses his optimism on Smart’s return for the playoffs.