FOXBORO -- Danny Amendola hasn't done much in Patriots practices since Day 1. More than a week and seven practices later, the 31-year-old wideout was back on the field looking like a full participant.
Though he's taken part in receiver drills and punt-return work previously, Saturday was his first time since catching eight passes for 78 yards and a score in Super Bowl LI that he's donned full pads and worked against defensive backs.
- Brady on his concussion history: "I really don't think that's anybody's business."
- Gilmore on scrap with Edelman: "Once I'm on the field, there's no friends."
- Postcard from camp, Day 9: Let the wet reps soak in
- VIDEO: Should Garoppolo be more panicked about the way he's played?
- VIDEO: Perry prediction: David Harris will wear the green dot on defense
Amendola indicated that the time he's spent away from the field recently hasn't been due to any lingering injury issue. Instead, it's been about managing his health so that he's ready at the right time.
"Sometimes the coaches do a good job of holding me back," he said following Saturday's rainy-day session. "If I was to get out there too soon or if I wasn’t ready or had something that was bothering me a little bit, I would play through it and sometimes it would make things worse. I feel like pace is a huge part of being successful through preseason and on into the season. I like to go full speed all the time. Right now, I’m kind of easing into and getting ready."
For a guy who's looked like he's shot out of a cannon during Tom Brady's Best Buddies flag football game in years past, having his workload dialed back to save him from himself probably isn't a terrible idea. When healthy, he's one of Brady's most trusted receivers, as evidenced by his 13 grabs for 126 yards, two scores and a two-point conversion in New England's last two Super Bowl victories.
Amendola said on Saturday that even after earning another ring, he hasn't considered retirement.
"I still have more to play," he said. "My body feels really good. I feel the best I’ve felt in a long time. I’m excited to get out there and kind of get some reps, get some more plays into the preseason and go from there . . .
"I want to play football for some more time. I’m not done yet. Wherever that may be, whatever it is, wherever it is, I want to play football at a high level, and this is where it’s going to be. I love it here. I’m going to try to make this team. I’m going to try to fill my role whatever that may be. Try to expand my role whatever that may be. Try to be here for my teammates and try to win games. That’s why I’m here."
Amendola was set to make $6 million in salary in 2017, though it was relatively clear he was not going to be playing for the Patriots under that contract the way it was structured. In April, news broke that he would re-do his deal with New England for the third time in as many years to save the Patriots $4.75 million in cap space. His $1.25 million base salary for 2017 is fully guaranteed and he could make as much as $1.7 million.
Why the willingness to take a reduced salary again, Amendola was asked?
"I love playing for this city. I love playing for this team," he said Saturday. "I love the atmosphere that coach [Bill Belichick] brings when we walk in the building every day. I want to play good football. I feel like this is the place where I’ll be able to challenge myself and play the best football I can. Ultimately, that’s why I’m here."