Edelman: Not preparing any differently

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Thrust into the spotlight after Wes Welker tore ligaments in his left knee, New England Patriots rookie wide receiver Julian Edelman is not breaking stride.

No matter that he's preparing for the biggest game of his young NFL career, a playoff contest against the Baltimore Ravens, he's focused on treating this like every other week.

The routine has started the same -- arriving at the Gillette Stadium, eating breakfast, meeting with special teams coach Scott O'Brien, hitting the hot tub, and then diving into his X's and O's.

"I really haven't prepared any differently," Edelman said Friday as more than 20 reporters gathered around his locker following the team's practice. "Any time you overhype something, you can become jacked up in the head. I came in, read the sign that said 'Do Your Job', and I'm trying to do my job."

Edelman's job description was altered the moment Welker hurt his knee in the first quarter of last Sunday's season finale in Houston. He ended up playing more snaps than any other receiver against the Texans, and his load should be similar in the playoffs.

Edelman noted that he has spoken with Welker, wishing him well as he deals with his injury. In turn, Welker passed along "words of wisdom", which included not to improvise, focus on his job, and things should be fine.

"It's Wes Welker. He's the heart and soul of our team, and we're going to miss him a lot," Edelman said. "I'm just going to go out there and try to give it my all, and do what I have to do."

Edelman's former coaches have pointed out that his confidence should aid him in this challenging time. Meanwhile, Patriots coach Bill Belichick has seen much of the same from the team's seventh-round draft choice out of Kent State, the 232nd player selected.

"I don't think you'd really notice anything different about him," Belichick said. "He's always shown up in practice, he makes good plays, he's taken plenty of plays in there over the course of the year for Wes or other players. He does a good, solid job, keeps his mouth shut, works hard, tries to get better, takes coaching well -- you tell him this is how you want to do something and he tries to do it that way.

"He's a very conscientious kid. He worked hard in the return game and on special teams, as well as on offense. That's kind of the way he always is and that's the way he's been this week. I haven't noticed anything unusual."

Edelman said his comfort level has increased over the course of the year as he's taken more repetitions in practice. As a rookie, he added that he feels it's his responsibility to stay after practice and catch extra passes and punts.

"It's been like every other week, I've been preparing just like it's any other game," he said of his approach over the last five days. "I'm trying not to hype it up too much. Just going out there trying to get better every day, that's what I've been preparing like."

Edelman added that he appreciates the support of his teammates, coaches and family members. It wasn't long ago when he was struggling to catch a punt on the practice fields, as in May the Patriots began the transition of making him a receiver/returner after his college career as a quarterback.

Now he's about to step in at receiver, for the irreplaceable Welker, in the biggest game of his NFL career.

"It's pretty surreal," he said, "but I don't really have time to think about that.

"If I think about that, I'm not thinking about the right things. I have to go out there and think about the Ravens, their defense and their schematics and all that stuff. We'll think about that after the season."

Mike Reiss covers the Patriots to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.