BOSTON (CBS) — Five days after Julian Edelman crumbled to the ground with an ACL tear versus the Lions, his teammates are still feeling the fallout of his season-ending injury.
The production on the field that the team will miss without Edelman is obvious, but Tom Brady’s most trusted receiver was also a huge presence for the Patriots behind-the-scenes. Edelman’s tireless work ethic off the field is a quality that the team will miss as much as anything.
“He comes in early and stays late and it’s impressive,” Jimmy Garoppolo told reporters on Tuesday. “All the guys. The whole wide receiver group. It’s a talented group.”
Fellow Super Bowl LI hero James White also praised Edelman’s work ethic.
“That guy works extremely hard,” White said. “He’s the first guy in here and leaves last. He’s catching tennis balls at six in the morning. As soon as you step in here as a rookie, you see how hard he works, and the results show.”
Edelman and his tennis balls have become somewhat legendary in recent months – because they apparently helped him make his unbelievable fourth-quarter catch in Super Bowl LI. In an interview for ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue, Edelman credited various tennis ball drills for his success.
“I like to go and do drills where you catch tennis balls off walls,” Edelman said. “Different colors use different hands, and you’ve got to react to those types of things at different angles. After that catch in the Super Bowl, I go up to the [equipment] guy who throws for me and I go, “It’s because of the tennis balls!” It’s because you’re reacting so quick. It all helps you out in the end.”
Odell Beckham Jr. also has performed similar tennis ball drills, most notably when he trained with Hall of Famer Cris Carter this offseason.
In regards to Edelman, it’s apparent that his teammates look up to him and notice his hard work and training methods. Edelman will likely tackle his rehab plan with the same tenacity.