Julian Edelman

Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports

Julian Edelman returns and it's like old times: 'I feel like I'm the best me right now'

John Tomase
October 05, 2018 - 12:46 am

The Patriots wasted no time welcoming Julian Edelman back to their offense on Thursday night. Tom Brady found him his favorite receiver for nine yards on the team's first play from scrimmage, and it was like he had never left.

Making his 2018 debut after serving a four-game suspension for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy, Edelman made up for lost time in a 38-24 victory over the Colts.

"I feel like I'm the best me right now," he told reporters. "I'm living my best life."

The slot machine caught seven passes on nine targets for 57 yards, giving Brady options, particularly on third down as the Pats started envisioning a future with their full complement of weapons, Edelman chief among them.

Though Edelman didn't score, he made an impact. He nearly reached the end zone on his third catch before being brought down at the 1, setting up a short TD pass to Cordarrelle Patterson. Of his seven catches, three went for first downs.

"It was great," Edelman said. "There are some things that obviously we have to work on, but it was good to get out there and catch some rocks, and go out and make some plays and be with the fellas. I haven't played football in I think it was 405 days, or something like that. It was good to be in front of the crowd. They were rocking. They were awesome. Seeing all them was amazing. It was just great to be back."

Edelman's most emotional moment came as the Patriots raced onto the field. He took the field to a raucous ovation.

"That's something that gets me fired up," he said. "I needed to share with people that come out and support you. Getting riled up. I remember when I tore my ACL, I was sitting back during the rehab, you're just sitting there and you can't wait to run out that tunnel."

During his suspension and rehab from a torn ACL suffered last preseason, Edelman worked out with former Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich, among others. He used facilities at Harvard, Boston College, and the Rivers School in Weston.

"It was pretty cool to see all the support from all these people and these organizations and these places, so I definitely took advantage of it," Edelman said. "But I can definitely get better."

Edelman also worked out with the Celtics, and had a message for swingman Gordon Hayward.

"I worked out in Brighton with some tall guys," he said. "I'll leave it at that. And tell Gordon -- easy on the ping pong talk. He's got a special paddle. He's got a special paddle. I didn't bring my paddle to the facilities. I'll leave it at that."