"I feel like I got to get my legs under me a lot more. I don't have my camp legs, I don't have football legs, and it's evident out there," he said Friday after the team's eighth practice of training camp.
Edelman, who will serve a four-game suspension to open the season for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy, has been a full participant throughout training camp. He is usually the first receiver through drills and part of the top-receiver group in 11-on-11 work.
His return to health will be critical for the Patriots, who are undergoing significant transition at receiver after trading Brandin Cooks to the Los Angeles Rams in the offseason and having Danny Amendola depart in free agency to the Miami Dolphins.
To this point in training camp, Edelman described his return as a "grind."
"You get tired, you create bad habits, you don't run your routes right and you get yelled at in meetings for it. I'm expecting to do that because I got to pick it up," he said. "I wasn't as good as I want to be today and feeling that's because I'm not in the best shape right now."
Edelman, who enters his 10th NFL season (all with the Patriots), believes he can get where he wants to be in time.
"You just keep on going out, and you grind. You keep on when you're tired, when you don't feel well. You got to be able to perform when things aren't going great, and that's what this does," he said. "That's what eight days in a row does, and that's what going out in training camp -- there's no light at the end of the tunnel right now. You got to go out and embrace it and take advantage of each day."
How the Patriots' receiving corps comes together without Edelman for the first four games of the season is one of the evolving top storylines for the team in training camp, as veteran Eric Decker is expected to join the mix, possibly as early as Saturday's practice.
The Patriots pursued Decker after releasing five-year veteran Jordan Matthews (hamstring) on Wednesday, and with Kenny Britt being brought back cautiously from a hamstring injury and Malcolm Mitchell's knee injury keeping him off the field.
So it's been Edelman and Chris Hogan as the top two receivers in practice, with Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson also seeing significant repetitions. First-year player Riley McCarron (Iowa) is also getting a long look, followed by 2018 sixth-round pick Braxton Berrios (Miami) and long shots Devin Lucien and Paul Turner.