Julian Edelman, Tom Brady working overtime to re-establish connection

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – When New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman takes the field in Saturday’s divisional-round playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens, it will mark his first game in almost a month. No one is more excited about that than Edelman, although quarterback Tom Brady probably isn’t far behind.

The two are working overtime to re-establish and fine-tune the connection that helped Edelman produce a team-high 92 receptions before he was shut down during the final two games of the season with a concussion.

“We’ve been practicing the last week and a half or something; I know Tom a little bit here now, these last few years. He knows me. There’s a foundation,” Edelman relayed in his first remarks to the press since Dec. 14 following a victory over the Dolphins. "But even if whatever happened didn’t happen, we still have to continue to try to get better. That’s what we’re trying to do -- staying after, throwing a couple extra routes, bouncing ideas off each other. Like any other week, I guess, but the stakes are a little higher.”

Edelman didn’t want to get into specifics about his absence, citing team policy when asked if he could have played in the regular-season finale Dec. 28 had the team not already locked up the No. 1 playoff seed in the AFC.

“It’s always tough to not be able to go out and compete with your team, and work on things to get ready for this last stretch,” he said. “You have to play with the cards you dealt. You have to adjust, adapt and overcome. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

Part of the recovery process, it seems, is forgoing a shave.

“It’s a playoff beard, I guess,” he cracked. “It’s getting there.”

As for Saturday’s matchup with the Ravens, Edelman touched on a rivalry between the teams that has been fueled by their frequent meetings. This will be the eighth time they’ve played since 2009.

“These guys are going to bring it,” he said. “Everyone thinks we hate them, but these are the types of games where it’s cold, it’s a battle, and you like competing against the Baltimore Ravens because you know they’re a good team.”

They also could have been Edelman’s team had things unfolded differently this past offseason, when he was a free agent. The Ravens were reportedly considering offering Edelman a $5 million-per-year contract had Steve Smith Sr. not signed with them.

Edelman was asked about that on Wednesday.

“I’m a huge fan of Steve Smith. I love his game; I love his mentality. I’ve looked up to a guy like him ever since I was a little kid,” he said. “I’ve got nothing but respect for him and I’m happy he got settled where he’s at, and I’m happy to be here, so that’s what I’ll say on that.”