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Julian Edelman: Should Bill Belichick Rethink the Punt Returner?

OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 02: Stanford Routt #26 of the Oakland Raiders tackles Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriot after an eleven yard gain in the first quarter of an NFL football game at O.co Coliseum on October 2, 2011 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Amelia AhlgrenContributor IIINovember 10, 2011

The Copley Square nightclub incident aside, major questions linger about Julian Edelman's usefulness after the Patriots' Week 9 loss to the Giants.

In his first appearance since the Pats' October 2 win over Oakland, Edelman was back to receive the first seven punts of the game—despite not having produced much on special teams all season.

Sure, Edelman was having a bad week, but the decisions he made on the field were just as dumb as the ones he made on Halloween.

Edelman did not look sharp and returned some deep balls that he should have let bounce into the end zone. On top of that, he called for a fair catch on the 6-yard line.

Who knows what he was thinking, but the Patriots' acquisition of Tiquan Underwood makes it clear what's on Bill Belichick's mind: The punt return unit needs a makeover. And it's true—the Pats rank 30th in the league in kickoff returns.

So where does that leave Edelman?

After Welker was knocked out with a torn ACL, Julian looked like the guy who could fill his shoes. In fact, Edelman left that very game with over 100 receiving yards—his first time to hit that mark in the NFL. Back then, people were referring to the guy as "Wes 2.0."

Since his role has shifted primarily to a punt returner, his usefulness has declined. If Edelman is to have any success on the Patriots, Belichick needs to get him back in the wide receiver slot. Otherwise, the Pats are better off without him.

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