Julian Edelman has come a long way from being a return specialist.
The New England Patriots wide receiver is one of only two players in NFL history with more than 100 receptions (105) in the postseason. The other? Jerry Rice, at 151.
What's more, the Pro Football Hall of Famer and unequivocal greatest wide receiver of all time says he loves Edelman's game.
From Rice's interview with The Athletic's Jeff Howe:
He's got that attitude. That ‘f--- you' attitude: 'I'm going to do what I want to do, and I'm going to go out and I'm going to ball. I'm going to make catches. I'm going to score touchdowns. I'm going to do whatever I have to do to help my team win.' You can only have an appreciation for that.
That's a great way to describe Edelman's edge. (We'd imagine he prefers Rice's description to Kyle Van Noy's...)
The 32-year-old wideout needs 46 more playoff receptions to match Rice, so he won't be making history in Super Bowl LIII against the Los Angeles Rams. But one or two more deep postseason runs could do the trick, in which case he should expect a call from Rice.
"He's coming after me," Rice said. "If that should happen, I would be the first one to congratulate him because of what he does on the football field. I think he's making his own mark. He's made a name for himself. Here's a guy that was a quarterback then transitioned into a receiver, and he has done a fantastic job."
Since the Patriots selected Edelman 232nd overall in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Kent State product has amassed 1,271 postseason receiving yards. That's good for fourth all time, but if Edelman tops 45 receiving yards in Super Bowl LIII, he'll jump both Cliff Branch and Michael Irvin into second place behind Rice, who owns a healthy lead at 2,245 yards.
Rice likes Edelman's chances -- and even sees some of himself in the scrappy receiver.
"I think he's awesome," Rice said. "The guy is a competitor. He wants the ball when everything is on the line. He is that No. 1 receiver. They talk about the New England Patriots don't have a go-to guy. Edelman is that guy, and he is going to find a way to get open and make the catch and keep the chains moving. He is just killing people. If the Rams cannot shut him and Brady down, they're going to lose.
"People talk about, ‘Well, he's not as fast and stuff.' That was the same knock on me. They were saying I didn't have that blazing speed. What Edelman has is a big heart. He wants to compete. He wants to be one of the best. He is going to make those difficult catches knowing that he's going to get hit. You can't ask for more in a receiver.
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