Amendola, Lewis take the field for Brady's charity football game

Amendola, Lewis take the field for Brady's charity football game

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Danny Amendola gave fans something they may not have been expecting to see on Friday night.

Playing in the Tom Brady Football Challenge at Harvard Stadium -- the kickoff event of the 17th annual Best Buddies Challenge, which is a charity walk, run and ride to benefit Best Buddies International -- the Patriots wasn't afraid to make a few playsat half speed . He made one leaping grab on a pass floated down the sideline from Brady. At the end of another catch-and-run, Amendola turned around Patriots Hall of Fame linebacker Tedy Bruschi a couple of times before running by him. 

Amendola's presence on the field came as somewhat of a surprise after he was one of 17 players who missed last Thursday's OTA session. He reportedly underwent offseason knee and ankle surgeries, but he clearly he felt confident enough in his legs to run around on a Friday night for charity. 

At one point, Amendola half-heartedly defended Patriots running back Dion Lewis, who is recuperating from an injury of his own. Lewis had surgery to repair the left ACL he tore on Nov. 8 of last season in a win over the Redskins.

Lewis moved methodically, catching one Brady pass, but hardly ever reaching a gear that would be considered jogging. 

"Going well," Lewis said when asked about his rehab Friday. "Just doing whatever I'm allowed to every day. Trying to listen to the trainers and whatever they let me to do, I do it as hard as I can."

Like Amendola, Lewis was also absent from last week's OTA session on Thursday. ESPN's Mike Reiss reported last week that Lewis is "on track" for New England's season-opener against the Cardinals on Sept. 11.

"It's good to be around everybody," Lewis said of being with his teammates at Gillette Stadium. "Just happy to be back. Just working as hard as I can and just taking every day step by step."

Patriots receiver Julian Edelman was present on the sidelines for Brady's Best Buddies game but did not play. Wearing a walking boot on his left foot and ankle, he signed autorgraphs and chatted with those on the sidelines.

When asked about his recovery, he sidestepped the question. 

"We're not here to talk about that," he said. "We're here to talk about Best Buddies."

Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich and running back James White also played in the game. Former Patriots Dan Koppen and Scott Zolak participated as well.

Among the other well-known participants involved were congressman Joe Kennedy III, governor Charlie Baker, chef Guy Fieri, television personality Maria Menounos and actor Michael Chiklis.

EX-PATS PODCAST: Why does it seem Patriots secondary is playing better without Gilmore?


EX-PATS PODCAST: Why does it seem Patriots secondary is playing better without Gilmore?

On this episode of The Ex-Pats Podcast...

0:10 - Mike Giardi and Dan Koppen give their takeaways from the Patriots win over the Falcons including the defense coming up strong against Atlanta but New England still taking too many penalties.

2:00 - Why it felt like this game meant more to the Patriots, their sense of excitement after the win, and building chemistry off a good victory.

6:20 - Falcons losing their identity without Kyle Shanahan as offensive coordinator and their bad play calling and decisions on 4th downs.

10:00 -  A discussion about Matt Ryan not making the throws he needed against the Patriots and if he has falling off the MVP caliber-type player he was last season.

14:00 - How and why the Patriots secondary seems to be playing better without Stephon Gilmore and why Malcolm Butler has been able to turn up his play as of late.

Mother Nature gets between Belichick and his Patriots-Falcons film study


Mother Nature gets between Belichick and his Patriots-Falcons film study

If your team makes a goal-line stop in the fourth quarter, but you can't see it on the All-22 tape, did it even happen? 

Bill Belichick said the fog that hovered above the Gillette Stadium turf on Sunday night didn't impact the play on the field, but it did make its imprint on the game in other ways. First of all, spotters and coaches up at the press level had some difficulty relaying information to coaches on the sidelines. Video on the hand-held tablets for sideline use -- as well as the old-school still-frame pictures Belichick prefers -- was also obstructed. 

Then on Monday, as coaches tried to digest the film, the fog butted in on the process again. 

"It affected us a lot this morning because it’s hard to see the game," Belichick said during a conference call. "The fourth quarter is – I don’t know – pretty close to a white-out on the sideline film. The sideline cameras are at the top of the stadium, so that’s a tough shot.

"The end zone cameras are a little bit lower and they get a little tighter shot, so the picture is a little bit clearer. But, on that shot, a lot of times you’re not able to see all the guys on the perimeter. It’s kind of an in-line shot.

"Yeah, the first half, start of the third quarter, it’s all right. As they get into the middle of the third quarter and on, for those of us with aging eyes, it’s a little strained to see it, and then there’s a point where you can’t really see it at all, especially from the sideline. So, yeah, it affected us."

Belichick re-iterated that the fog didn't do much to the product on the field (other than maybe making life difficult for kick and punt-returners), refuting Julio Jones' claim from late Sunday night. When it came to digesting the film, though, that was another story.

"It was more, I’d say, just tougher for, whether it be our video camera or the fans that were sitting in the upper deck. It’s just there was too much interference there," Belichick said. "It was probably hard to see the game. I know when we tried to look at the pictures in between series – you know, I don’t look at the tablets, so I won’t get into that – but the pictures, it was kind of the same thing. It was hard to really be able to make out exactly what you were seeing."