BOSTON (CBS) — Julian Edelman will be remembered as one of the fiercest competitors to ever put on a New England Patriots uniform. And even though Edelman called it a career this offseason, his impact on the team will remain for a while.

The Patriots’ receiver room lost one of its most productive and driven players, but Edelman’s nature certainly rubbed off on those he shared that room with. As the veteran of the group, Edelman made sure to teach New England’s younger pass-catchers the way of the NFL. The converted college quarterback was a mentor to Gunner Olszewski and Jakobi Meyers in recent years, and his message — and approach — will not be forgotten.

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Just ask Olszewski, who summed up Edelman’s fire during his video conference call with reporters on Thursday.

“Two words: Piss and vinegar. That’s what that dude was all about,” Olszewski said bluntly. “I don’t know if I can say that, but those are the two things I’ll never forget.

“Actually, there are two more: Competitive and stamina,” he added. “That was his other one, but I’m sure you heard that one before.”

Olszewski went through a career metamorphosis himself when he entered the NFL. A defensive back at Bemidji State, he changed his spots to become an All Pro punt returner for the Patriots in 2020. He also caught all five passes that went his way over his 13 games as a receiver last season.

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He said his transformation was easier with a leader like Edelman by his side.

“I don’t think I can put it into words. He took me under his wing, me and Jakobi both, being underdog receivers. Jakobi was a former quarterback and I didn’t play wide receiver, so he kind of showed us the ropes,” he said of Edelman.

Gunner said it would be tough not to have Edelman with the team, but he understands his decision.

“It sucks, but I know how he is. He wants to be his best out there, and if he doesn’t think he can do that he doesn’t want to be out there,” said Olszewski. “He’s the ultimate competitor. Toughest dude I ever played with.”

Edelman’s lessons will follow Gunner for the rest of his career, and he certainly isn’t done getting better. The 24-year-old is eager to make an even bigger impact for the Patriots in 2021, and he’s got the perfect mindset to do just that.

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“Bigger, faster, stronger. Earn everything I get,” he said. “If I can improve the team, that’s what I hope to do on the field. Everyone has jobs to earn.”

CBSBoston.com Staff