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.

Reports: Patriots among NFL teams taking a look at Manziel

File photo

Reports: Patriots among NFL teams taking a look at Manziel

Johnny Manziel said 10 days ago, "I'd go to New England in a heartbeat," when asked about the Patriots as a potential landing spot.

That seemed like wishful thinking at the time, but they're taking a look at him...along with 12 other NFL teams, according to ESPN's Eric Williams. 

Tom Brady's current backup Brian Hoyer is, like Manziel, an ex-Cleveland Browns quarterback. Manziel would again be competing with Hoyer for the Pats' No. 2 job should New England take a chance on "Johnny Football", the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M, who's been out of football the past two years because of substance abuse and emotional problems.

FOX Sports' Bruce Feldman had it at 12 teams watching Manziel work out at the University of San Diego and said the Patriots gave Manziel a weigh-in.


Patriots re-sign offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle

Patriots re-sign offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle

The Patriots have agreed to re-sign offensive lineman LaAdrian Waddle, his agent Scott Casterline confirmed on Twitter.  Waddle hit unrestricted free agency when the new league year began and made a visit to the Cowboys earlier this week. In the end, though, he chose to return to the team that claimed him off of waivers at the end of the 2015 season.

Waddle, who turns 27 in July, appeared in 12 games last season for the Patriots. He was the first right tackle the Patriots turned to when Marcus Cannon suffered an ankle injury mid-season against the Chargers. He ended up playing 51 snaps against the likes of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram without allowing a sack. He then started the next three games against the Broncos, Raiders and Dolphins and held star rushers Von Miller, Khalil Mack and Cameron Wake -- all of whom rush primarily off of the offensive right -- without a sack. 

Injuries forced Waddle (380 snaps on the season) to split the right tackle position with Cameron Fleming (543 snaps), but he was the primary backup when healthy. Waddle started the Divisional Round playoff game against the Titans but suffered a knee injury and was removed for Fleming. 

Both Fleming and Waddle visited the Cowboys this week, and the fact that Waddle has re-signed with the Patriots may impact Fleming's decision moving forward. 

The Patriots went to great lengths to build tackle depth last season, and adding Waddle to the roster helps them retain some of that depth after losing their left tackle, Nate Solder, to the Giants via free agency. Waddle could be an option on the left side, but the vast majority of his work since entering the league as an undrafted rookie in 2013 has been on the right side. 

The Patriots now have Fleming, Marcus Cannon, Cole Croston, Tony Garcia and Andrew Jelks on their depth chart at tackle. Croston, Garcia and Jelks are all headed into their second years as pros. Croston remained on the 53-man roster all season -- an indication that the Patriots liked him enough not to expose him to the waiver system -- but did not see meaningful snaps. Garcia and Jelks both missed the entirety of the 2017 season on reserve lists. 

Once the Patriots lost Solder to the Giants, it seemed to be of paramount importance that the Patriots re-sign either Waddle or Fleming. Behind Cannon, there were simply too many question marks not to have one return. The Patriots could opt to draft a tackle, but this is considered an average year at that position in that there are few ready-made NFL players and several developmental types.

Before the Super Bowl last season, I asked offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia how the team was able to manage offensively with backups at right tackle for much of the season. 

"It's not like [Fleming and Waddle are] not good players," Scarnecchia said. "They are good players. Their skill set seemed to fit that position pretty well. They have the traits that we covet. And they're both really smart guys, very willing learners, and they're both driven to be good and they want to play good. And I think all those things have manifested themselves when they've been out there playing. And we've been very, very pleased with what they've done for us this year, essentially splitting that position."

Asked about the aspects of the game the Patriots worked on with both Waddle and Fleming last year, Scarnecchia said, "For us it transcends everything. Obviously run-blocking and pass-blocking. They're both good at those things. Are they great at those things? No. But they've been able to steadily improve over the last two years to the point where we put them out there and no one's worried. And it's been that way the whole season after Marcus got hurt. Yeah they've done a nice job for us."