Julian Edelman proves valuable complement to Patriots ground game in opener

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(Adam Richins for BSJ)

Is Julian Edelman already a Hall of Famer, or maybe just on the cusp needing one final push?

The 2020 New England Patriots season, Year 1 A.B. (After Brady), could provide just that.

In a Week 1 Patriots victory over Miami, during which a bruising, bullying New England ground game earned top billing, it became evident that when Cam Newton needed a target, he was looking first and foremost for Edelman.

The numbers are not large. They aren’t vintage Edelman, just five catches for 57 yards and a 23-yard end-around rush, but the attitude -- and that of this entire new-look Patriots team -- is all Julian.

“The only stat that really matters is the scoreboard at the end of the game,” said Edelman, summing up the Sunday matinee opener.

He’s no captain. Physically, he’s diminutive at just 5-foot-10 and 198 yards. And at 34, with plenty of wear on his tires, Edelman is hardly throttling down.

Sunday afternoon, he’s there in the slot or on the edge, hitting anything trimmed in Aqua and Orange that moved, looking to open up running lanes.

Anyone who thought, without Tom Brady, that Edelman might not toil to earn every bit of his $7 million or so this season, looks to be pretty incorrect.

“It was awesome, we went out there, battled and got a ‘W,’” he said emphatically after the victory.

He made some big plays, and it was cool to witness that on this side

“Now we’re looking forward to compounding and building on this. It’s good to keep it going … Definitely fun, something we can build off of.”

As far as the Patriots' receiving game goes, Edelman could be a man on an island. Newton threw the football a 1978-esque 19 times, and Edelman drew a team-high seven of those targets.

There is a mutual admiration society building fast here at Gillette Stadium. Newton talked in glowing terms about Edelman this week.

“One thing about Jules,