FOXBORO -- You can debate where Julian Edelman ranks among the NFL's best wide receivers. But make no mistake: He's in "The Club."
Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins basically confirmed as much last week, admitting Edelman is one of his favorite wide receivers and revealing he studied film of the New England Patriots veteran this past offseason, specifically to watch how Edelman maximizes his yards after the catch to pick up first downs.
Considering Hopkins is one of the best wideouts on the planet, Edelman had to enjoy the fact that the All-Pro wanted to watch film of him, no?
"I mean, it's pretty cool. He's a hell of a football player," Edelman said Friday when told about Hopkins' comments. "We've hung out a couple times here in the offseason. I've seen him around. Nothing but respect for him. He's a cool dude, and he's an unbelievable football player."
Edelman is a fierce competitor, though, and he seemed mildly irritated by the fact that Hopkins has a 99 overall rating (out of 100) in EA Sports' "Madden NFL 20." (Edelman enters Sunday with an 88 rating.)
"He's not a 99 in Madden for no reason. I was just trying to get (my rating) up on there," Edelman said.
"He's a stud. Fortunately I don't play him -- I play against the defensive backs and the defense, and that's where my focus is on -- but it's very flattering."
Hopkins faces his toughest test yet Sunday night in lockdown cornerback Stephon Gilmore and the Patriots defense. Edelman has just five fewer catches (76) than Hopkins (81) on the season -- the two rank second and third in the NFL in receptions this season -- so he'll be aiming to surpass his admirer Sunday at NRG Stadium.
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Julian Edelman is quite flattered DeAndre Hopkins studied film of him originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston