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Marla Ridenour on Sports

Belichick a Kent State fan?

By Marla Published: November 3, 2010

Patriots coach Bill Belichick, the former Browns coach, said little about his former pupil Eric Mangini or anything else in a 13-minute conference call with the Cleveland media Wednesday.

But he did perk up a bit when asked about Browns receiver/returner Joshua Cribbs and Patriots receiver/punt returner Julian Edelman, both former Kent State quarterbacks.

Edelman, a seventh-round draft pick in 2009, has caught four passes for 16 yards and returned seven punts for an 11.9 average.

Last season when Wes Welker suffered a serious knee injury going into the playoffs, Edelman took advantage of his opportunity, catching 10 passes against the Houston Texans after Welker went out. Edelman finished his rookie season with 37 receptions for 359 yards and a TD, returned 11 kickoffs for a 21.9 average and six punts for a 10.5 average.

When it was mentioned that there are two former KSU quarterbacks playing Sunday, Belichick said, ''And neither one playing quarterback. Well, they might play it for a little bit.

"Yeah, that program's had a lot of players in the NFL. I think three guys on Edelman's team are playing in the secondary in the NFL. Julian and Cribbs both made the transition from the quarterback position to NFL receiver and kick returner. It's really pretty impressive.

"Julian's done a good job for us. He's really worked hard and in one year made a big jump from not playing receiver to playing it pretty well. Cribbs has had an outstanding career and he's got a lot in front of him as well, but he's made a tremendous impact in this league.''

Belichick lauded the Kent State players in the NFL, including San Diego tight end Antonio Gates and Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison.

"It's pretty impressive what they've done and what a lot of those players from Kent State have done in the past few years and the impact they've made in the league,'' Belichick said. ''Gates, right down the line, Harrison, there's a long list of them. It's great for the school going all the way back to (Jack) Lambert and Nick Saban and all those guys. The tradition continues.''

Belichick was cagey when asked how he will use Edelman the rest of the season.

''He's done a lot of different things for us,'' Belichick said. "We'll try to do whatever we can with him that gives us an opportunity to be productive and for him to make plays for us. He's a pretty versatile guy, smart, and has a lot of different skills.''

Belichick is a champion of undrafted players and products of small schools. The Patriots roster boasts 10 rookie and undrafted free agents, not including draft picks.



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