Edelman: ‘I don't have football legs and it's evident out there'

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FOXBORO - Julian Edelman doesn't quite feel like Julian Edelman. Yet.

Making his return to football after nearly an entire calendar year away hasn't been easy. Though there have been drills in camp when he's moved crisply and cut sharply on his surgically-repaired knee, there have been just as many team periods where he hasn't looked like the receiver who caught 98 passes for a career-high 1,106 yards and helped the Patriots win a Super Bowl in 2016.

Friday was one of those days where something was off. Edelman slipped and fell twice at the tops of routes in team periods, one of which resulted in an easy interception by Jason McCourty on a throw from Brian Hoyer. 

Edelman admitted that it's "been a grind" to get back into football shape. He'll miss the first four weeks of the regular season as he's scheduled to serve a suspension for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy. 

"Honestly just trying to get your legs to – you’re compounding day after day after day after day," he said. "When you’re working in the offseason, you may put three [days] together. I think we’re on what, [day] eight today? 

"So you’re always trying to go out and get better and I have to do a lot better. I feel like I got to get my legs under me a lot more. I don’t have my camp legs, I don’t have football legs and it’s evident out there. 

"You get tired, you create bad habits, you don’t run your routes right and you get yelled at in meetings for it. I’m expecting to do that because I got to pick it up. I wasn’t as good as I want to be today and feeling that’s because I’m not in the best shape right now."

Practice on Friday was a light one for most regulars. Tom Brady didn't take a single competitive rep. Rob Gronkowski was used sparingly. Same went for Stephon Gilmore and Devin McCourty. 

Still, Edelman was out there trying to put in the necessary hours to get himself back up to speed eventually. Hearing him speak after the session, after he'd just run hills with his teammates in 90-degree heat, it sounded like his destination was still a ways off. 

"You just keep on going out and you grind," he said. "You keep on when you’re tired, when you don’t feel well. You got to be able to perform when things aren’t going great and that’s what this does. That’s what eight days in a row does, and that’s what going out in training camp [does]. 

"There’s no light at the end of the tunnel right now. You got to go out and embrace it and take advantage of each day."

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