Julian Edelman has carved out an interesting niche for himself on the Patriots' roster. An intriguing question is which direction it heads from here.
Over the course of the 2011 regular season, Edelman played 111 snaps as a receiver (11 games), while logging 94 snaps as a defensive back (5 games).
His performance on defense in the season finale against the Bills was particularly notable, as he entered the game on the fourth series with the Patriots trailing 21-0. He played 41 straight snaps (mostly in the slot) before leaving the field when his leg tightened up, at which point the Patriots had a 42-21 lead.
"We got a lot of snaps out of Julian," coach Bill Belichick said after the game.
They looked like quality snaps, too, which leads to the question, "Should Edelman play more on defense?"
Wherever it leads, Edelman figures to embrace the role.
"You know what I love? I love winning," Edelman said Sunday, when asked if he likes his jack-of-all-trades standing on the roster. "As long as we're winning, everything is great. If I can contribute in any type of way, I'm happy."
In addition to contributing on defense in the season finale, Edelman also helped as a blocking receiver, making his presence felt on Aaron Hernandez's 19-yard run to open the third quarter. Edelman's down-the-field work had receivers coach Chad O'Shea fired up on the sideline.
After the game, Edelman (4 receptions, 34 yards) talked about his desire to be part of "explosion plays" in any phase of the game (a run over 10 yards, or a passing play over 20), as well as third-down stops or breakout plays on special teams.
As part of his unique niche on the roster, he's been part of them all.