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Patriots’ Julian Edelman on his intensity: ‘I’m happily miserable’

Focused as always, Julian Edelman practices as hard as he plays.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

’’FOXBOROUGH —The intensity that Julian Edelman takes into every game doesn’t really have an off switch. It’s there in practice. It’s there in team meetings. It’s there in the rare moments he addresses the team.

He wears his demeanor as a grinder like a badge of honor.

“That’s just the way I am,” he said. “I’m a competitor, I’m semi-intense, um, I’m pretty intense, I guess.”

A few times since Cam Newton arrived in New England, he’s tried to get Edelman to shed his gruff exterior.

“I always have to tease with him just to lighten him up, but he’s just got that look in his face — that fiery look,” Newton said.


Edelman didn’t see much reason to budge.

“No, not really,” he said. “I’m happily miserable.”

As a seventh-round pick who became a three-time Super Bowl champion, his approach, consistent if curmudgeonly, carries weight in a Patriots locker room that’s gone through seismic changes since last season.

“You don’t only respect that from a person who’s been doing this year in and year out for so many different years and producing,” Newton said. “That’s the only thing you can ask for from a teammate.”

Although Edelman wasn’t named one of the team’s six captains this season, he’s unquestionably one of its leaders entering his 12th season.

“I don’t know that — and I’ll speak to my personal relationship with him — I’m still playing in this league without having him alongside me the last 12 years,” said Matthew Slater. "He’s been such an encouragement for me, to see a guy like that give so much of himself to this team, this organization, this city, has been inspiring.

“I’ve seen this guy grow as a man, I’ve seen him grow as a professional, I’ve seen him learn from mistakes and be better for it. All the things you hope to have in a guy that represents your franchise, he embodies.”


Edelman also has been overlooked. Despite catching 599 passes for 6,507 yards and 36 touchdowns over his career, Edelman has never earned a Pro Bowl nod. Last season, he caught 100 passes for a career-high 1,117 yards and six touchdowns, but when the NFL Network released its player-voted list ranking the league’s top 100 players, Edelman was ranked 101 by his peers.

“It’s only fitting that he’s still being counted out,” Slater said. “He’s still being overlooked, because that’s just going to add more of a chip to what’s already a large chip on his shoulders.”

Adrian Phillips has settled in

After spending his entire career in San Diego, making the transition to New England in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic was challenging for safety Adrian Phillips. But he’s adapted quickly.

“Being somewhere for so long, you kind of get into the same routine and used to living a certain way, and then you’ve got to pick up and go across the country to a new place,” Phillips said. “And then on top of that, you have the COVID outbreak and couldn’t even get here. So it was a unique transition. But once I got here, everything went seamlessly. It went real smooth.”

Phillips is just two years from the best season of his career. He finished 2018 with 94 tackles, one interception, and a forced fumble and went to the Pro Bowl. Last season, he suffered a broken arm in Week 2 that kept him out for two months. When Phillips got the call from Patriots coach Bill Belichick, he appreciated Belichick being straightforward about the role available to him in New England. Having seen the Patriots culture from afar, he was curious about how it looked from the inside.


“You see why they were so dominant for so many years,” Phillips said. "Just being a part of it and seeing how the whole difference works and how people play off of each other, you can see why they get so many — see why we get so many turnovers and why we make so many plays.

“When you’re looking from the outside in, it looks like one thing, but when you actually get here, it’s a big puzzle. And being a part of that and seeing that and just seeing how everything works is really beautiful. It’s like art. People compare it to art sometimes. But actually seeing how people work together and move pieces around, you can see why we’ve been so dominant.”

Olszewski out for opener

The Patriots ruled receiver/returner Gunner Olszewski out of Sunday’s opener against the Dolphins as he continues to deal with a foot problem that cost him a few recent practices. He practiced on a limited basis this week, including Friday’s shells-and-sweats workout but hasn’t been 100 percent.

In addition, fellow receiver N’Keal Harry (shoulder) popped up on the injury report for the first time and though he was a full participant in practice, he is questionable for Sunday.


The news wasn’t all bad on the injury front, however, as Edelman (knee) and cornerback Stephon Gilmore (hamstring) were removed after previously being limited.

Linebackers Chase Winovich (shoulder) and Cassh Maluia (knee), and tight end Dalton Keene (neck) were limited in practice and their status is questionable for the opener.

The Patriots also cut offensive lineman Corey Levin from the practice squad.

Demonstrations discussed

Edelman said the team will discuss their plans for any demonstrations during Sunday’s national anthem. The Chiefs and Texans locked arms on the field before Thursday night’s NFL season opener in a show of unity. Fans at Arrowhead Stadium could be heard booing.

Jim McBride of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

Julian Benbow can be reached at julian.benbow@globe.com.