It took awhile for Julian Edelman to get his chance in the Patriots offense, but now the 5-foot-10 wide receiver is one of Tom Brady's favorite targets.
The Redskins' defense plays against shifty receivers each day in practice with Jamison Crowder (5-foot-8, 185 pounds) and Rashad Ross (6-foot, 180 pounds).
Today, they'll square off against a very similar player in the form of New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman, a 5-foot-10, 200 pound seven-year veteran.
"Definitely having Crowder and Ross helps me out a lot just working on my technique out there," rookie defensive back Kyshoen Jarrett said. "So when it comes to the game, I'm not stressing. It's easy based on everything I've gone through throughout the week."
Edelman has gone from bottom of the depth chart to the Patriots' most reliable receiver over the years.
Drafted out of Kent State in the seventh-round of the 2009 NFL Draft, Edelman transitioned over from college quarterback to wide receiver.
He played sparingly during his first four seasons but during the 2013 season, Edelman had a breakout season, recording 105 receptions for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns while replacing Wes Welker, who had played the same go-to role for Tom Brady.
Through seven games this season, Edelman has tallied 52 receptions – tied for the sixth-most in the league this season – along with 584 yards and six touchdowns.
"Edelman is outstanding as far as setting people up and exploding out of cuts and making the tough catches on crossing routes, option routes," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "But to get the good look, it's going to be hard to emulate that. We've done a lot of that ourselves against our defense throughout training camp with our slot guys, Andre [Roberts] and Jamison. They've had a lot of looks at it. The pace and the route tree is a little bit different than what they'll see on Sunday."
Of course, Edelman isn't the only target on a Patriots offense that has plenty of weapons.
A look back at some of the images in games between the Washington Redskins and New England Patriots.
With Rob Gronkowski separating himself from the rest of the tight ends in the league, Danny Amendola being productive at times and even Dion Lewis, a player who did not play over the last two seasons and had never started a game until the year, that leaves defenses to make a decision.
Do you have a specific player travel with Edelman? What about man vs. zone coverage?
"You look, they can line up most of their skill players, they can line up anywhere on the field and they can be dynamic from anywhere," linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said. "They line up Amendola and Edelman both outside and inside. They line up Gronk in the line, out of the line at No. 1 receiver. And then [the] running backs can catch the ball well out of the backfield, so their versatility is something else."
Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry said when it comes to game day, his unit simply needs to execute, perhaps sharper than they have at any point this year.
"Forget all the jersey numbers of their weapons. Whatever we have called, whether its quarters or Tampa 2 or three-deep or rushing three or rushing six, we've got to go do what we do the best that we've done all year and there's no margin for error because that's what they do better than anyone," Barry said. "They take advantage of a team when they make a mistake and they cash in on it. The thing that we've really preached about all week is 'Yes, they have a great system. Yes, they have a great quarterback running it. Yes, they have great players in the system. But it's about us. It's getting the call, getting lined up and going and making a play.' That's what they rely on – you screwing up. That's what we can't do. We've got to do our job better than we've done it all year long."