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Edelman tries to prove he’s a “real defensive back”

Indianapolis Colts v New England Patriots

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 04: Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots is congratulated by teammates Aaron Hernandez #81 and Julian Edelman #11 after Gronkowski scored a touchdown in the second half against the Indianapolis Colts on December 4, 2011 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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With a few days to think about it, Giants wide receiver Mario Manningham backtracked from his original derisive statements about Patriots cornerback/wide receiver Julian Edelman.

But Manningham didn’t backtrack too far.

“We know he’s a great player, but we want to go out and do what we have to do to win. No matter what it takes. He plays wide receiver. He’s not a real defensive back,” Manningham said. “Did he get drafted as a defensive back? We have a little bond going on knowing that we can beat somebody. We’re confident. I hope he’s out there.”

Edelman may not be a real defensive back, but he played one in college. And he knows what bothers offensive players. He’s not afraid to be physical.

“He’s a hell of a football player,” Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said Tuesday. “He looks like a guy that has been on the offensive side and had people grab and hold him. And now he’s now trying to reverse the process. He looks like a good defensive back.”

The Patriots believe Edelman succeeds because he likes to mix it up. Deion Branch said he’s been lobbying for his own defensive snaps for weeks, but the coaches won’t bite.

“He loves to cover me and Wes,” Branch said. “That’s the highlight of his practice. Julian is one of those guys that nags you a lot. As a receiver, you hate that. That’s his style. He’s an aggressive guy.”

“I like Julian. He’s a beast. He has that mentality, that beast mode in him,” safety Patrick Chung said. “He’s tough, he’s fast, he’s physical. I have no worries about Julian. He’s good.”

No matter what happens Sunday, it’s remarkable Edelman can play defense at such a high level considering the demands of the position. He’s playing offense, defense, and special teams on the game’s biggest stage.

“You gotta understand,” Branch said. “He’s in the offensive meeting room, then the defensive meeting room. So he’s missing half of what they say in the defensive meeting room because he’s with us.”