FOXBOROUGH — Deceptive and elusive are two words that forever will be used to describe Julian Edelman’s feats on the football field.
Now they can be included in his off-field scouting report as well.
Edelman put those skills to work Tuesday during a post-practice chat with the media when the topic of how the veteran receiver will try to stay in game shape as he sits out the first four weeks of the season because of a suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
At first, Edelman said he would rather keep his plans “private” but later let it slip that he just might be enlisting the help of a former teammate as he puts together a plan to stay sharp.
“There’s definitely been some good stuff [in practice], and there’s definitely been a lot of stuff that I’ve taken notes on that I’ll be working on with [Rob] Ninkovich chasing me around with his pads on,’’ Edelman said. “So, that’s what we’re going to do.’’
Smiling, Edelman then said, “That’s a joke. Or is it?’’
He then added a few winks for effect.
Edelman has gotten some tips about how to spend his time away from Gillette Stadium from Tom Brady, who served a four-game ban to start the 2016 season, part of the Deflategate penalties.
“He’s been very helpful,’’ he said. “But again, those conversations will remain private.’’
There’s that deception and elusiveness.
Edelman, the top player on a receiving depth chart that has taken a lot of hits this summer, acknowledged that this week has been both “good” and “hard” as he comes to grips with his looming hiatus.
“Real football starts soon,’’ said Edelman, who missed all of the 2017 regular-season campaign because of torn ACL. “So, it’s definitely been a reality check, but I’m not going to sit here and worry about things I can’t control. Ultimately, I put myself in this situation, so it’s more of let’s go and get myself ready for when I can play, taking the extra time to get my knee feeling great, getting my ankles feeling great, [and] this, that, [and] the other thing, because the NFL season is a grind. That’s what I’m looking forward to.’’
Because Edelman likely won’t play in Thursday’s exhibition finale against the Giants in the Meadowlands — “I prepare every week like I’m playing, so we’ll take it from there,’’ he said — this week’s practice reps took on extra importance.
“I definitely put a lot more value into these practices and every opportunity I’ve had this week to go out and do extra,’’ he said. “Yeah, I won’t be there for the first four, so I don’t want to go into those weeks saying, ‘I wish I would have done this or I wish I would have done that.’ It’s been a hard week.’’
Edelman began camp limited as he recovered from the ACL injury, but said he feels he has made steady progress.
“It’s definitely feeling better and better. That’s for sure,’’ he said. “There’s still things, where you have days where it’s like ‘this is tired or this [and] that.’ Our training staff has been working hard. They’ve been on top of it. Just doing all the little stuff, little exercises to keep stuff strengthened. This [and] that. It’s been a grind.’’
Though mysterious about most of his plans for his unplanned month off, Edelman said he’ll definitely be watching the games he’s not allowed to play in.
“I mean, I’m still part of the team,’’ he said. “I’m excited for the guys who will get opportunities, and I’m excited for this 2018 season. A lot of guys have worked hard. A lot of guys have done some good things and they’ve seen improvement. It’s been a competitive group in our room and in every room, all the rooms. The rookies, the guys that are from other teams. This is the beginning of the start of the 2018 mold.
“So, I’ll definitely be watching and I’ll have my Patriots hat on and probably a soda and some popcorn.’’
Edelman will be eligible to return to Gillette Stadium on Oct. 1 and he won’t have much time to prepare with teammates as the Patriots will host the Colts just three days later in a prime-time Thursday game.