BOSTON (CBS) – When Wes Welker left New England for the Denver Broncos last offseason, the Patriots needed someone to step up and fill the void in the receiving corps.

That player turned out to be Julian Edelman, who put together a career year in every offensive category. The receiver eclipsed his career totals with 105 receptions for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns this season (he had 70, 714 and four prior to the season), and became Tom Brady’s favorite target while the quarterback got used to life without the likes of Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, and, of course, Welker.

Edelman clearly filled up the stats that Welker would normally tally for the Patriots, and it’s no small accomplishment to make up for the loss of the best slot receiver to ever play the game. Welker himself had a very good season in Denver, catching 73 passes for 718 yards and a career-high 10 touchdowns before concussion issues kept him out of the season’s final weeks.

But for one Denver Broncos defensive back, Edelman’s talents don’t come close to Welker.

“I can’t compare the two because Wes is — he’s something special,” said Denver safety Mike Adams. “He can jive up the ball and then speed out and have you off-balance. Edelman, he doesn’t do that. He’s a one-speed guy. He doesn’t have the same ability or the quickness that Wes has in the slot.”

“They’re totally different players,” he concluded.

It’s hard to fault Adams for praising his own teammate. Welker will go down as one of the best– if not the best — slot receivers to ever play the game. But Edelman is not too far behind him, at least for this season. Edelman is just as quick as Welker, if not a little bit faster, and he’s displayed throughout the year that he can do many of the things Welker did for Tom Brady for six seasons before his departure for Denver.

As for Adams, he’ll get a first-hand look at just how close Edelman is to Welker in Sunday’s AFC Championship game in Denver.

Tune in to the AFC Championship game at 3 pm on 98.5 The Sports Hub and WBZ-TV — the flagship stations of the New England Patriots. WBZ-TV will have a special 90-minute edition of Patriots GameDay beginning at 11:30 am, with pregame coverage beginning on 98.5 FM at noon.  


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