New England Patriots star wide receiver Julian Edelman is one of the most consistent punt returners in the game, and he owns the record for the highest career punt return average among all qualifiers. But more importantly, Edelman emerged as one of the most consistent wide receivers in the game last season, and the 2013 breakout player was certainly the team’s most consistent wideout He’s fully earned Tom Brady’s trust, and his stat line of 100-1,056-6 last season proves it.
Edelman is playing on a new contract after being re-signed by the team this offseason, so it’s possible that the Patriots could take away his role on special teams as a punt returner in an effort to decrease the chances of their most consistent wide receiver sustaining an injury. He didn’t miss a game in 2013, but that’s the only time in his career that he’s played in all 16 games, and he missed seven games in 2012 with a broken hand and broken foot.
But Edelman stated that he loves playing special teams and doesn’t want to stop returning punts, via the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin, “That’s a part of the game that gave me the opportunity to make this team. I love returning punts. I love [special teams] Coach [Scott] O’Brien, I love his scheme, I love all that stuff. I would love to do that.
“If they ask me to do it, I’m going to do it.’’
Volin believes the Patriots could cut down on Edelman’s work on punt returns, but that remains to be seen. Last year, Edelman had a career-high 374 punt return yards, and he’s definitely one of the best in the business. He doesn’t usually net huge returns, but he consistently gets solid ones thanks to his agility, good-but-not-great long speed, and impeccable awareness.