Danny Amendola

Trip down memory lane: Belichick compares Amendola return to Brown's in 2001

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Trip down memory lane: Belichick compares Amendola return to Brown's in 2001

We're less than halfway into the 2017 season, but Bill Belichick has already put together two of the more entertaining "Belichick Breakdowns" in recent memory on Patriots.com. He's having some fun with these, it seems. 

Following his team's last-minute win over the Texans in Week 3, he highlighted an in-game adjustment made by offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels that took advantage of a brief conversation had by a pair of Houston defensive backs. After beating the Bucs last week, one of his favorite plays from the game prompted him to take a quick trip down memory lane

Belichick first broke down a second-quarter punt return by Danny Amendola that went for 40 yards, explaining that "it always starts with getting the gunners and handling the ball." One Tampa Bay gunner was flagged for an unsportsmanlike penalty as he ran out of bounds down the field in pursuit of Amendola, adding onto what was already a good gain helped by blocks from Jonathan Jones, Johnson Bademosi, Patrick Chung, Jordan Richards. 

"There's actually some organization," Belichick said, "to the chaos that's going on."

It reminded Belichick of the punt return that Troy Brown took back for a touchdown in Pittsburgh during the 2001 AFC Championship Game.

On the snap prior to Brown's touchdown, the opposition had a player run out of bounds on a punt without being touched -- much like in Tampa -- which backed the Steelers up five yards and forced them to re-kick. On the subsequent punt, the Patriots dominated their blocking assignments. 

Larry Izzo and Patrick Pass sealed off their would-be tacklers, Ty Law pancaked the long-snapper, Matt Chatham never let his man get off the line of scrimmage, and Terrell Buckley and Antwan Harris smothered their gunner on a double-team.

By the end of the play, mauled by Harris and Buckley, the Steelers gunner was on his hands and knees in his own end zone after starting the play at the eight-yard line. 

"That's about as good as a gunner can be blocked right there," Belichick said. "These guys should be on the porch on the Hall of Fame just for that block alone."

During the segment with host Scott Zolak, Belichick also explained what went on during Dion Lewis' 31-yard run -- the team's first explosive run of the season, Belichick pointed out -- as well as a Devin McCourty tackle-for-loss and an Elandon Roberts third-down stop.

You can watch the entire video here.

Brady calls Amendola 'uncoverable' - 'He's getting away from people no matter what the route'

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Brady calls Amendola 'uncoverable' - 'He's getting away from people no matter what the route'

FOXBORO -- Danny Amendola couldn't hold back his smile. 

The Patriots receiver had just been told by a reporter that Tom Brady, moments earlier, referred to him as "uncoverable." There may be no greater compliment for someone who plays Amendola's position. 

"Whatever Tom says," Amendola replied, beaming.

Brady had a point. Amendola has caught 23 of the 27 targets sent his way this season, and among receivers with at least 20 targets this season, Amendola has the league's best catch percentage.

He's on pace for an 86-catch, 1,000-yard season -- both of which would be career-highs.

"He’s had such a great year," Brady said. "I mean, I can’t say enough good things about Danny and everything he’s meant to our offense. I mean, he’s so tough and, to me, he’s uncoverable. You turn on the tape, he’s getting away from people, no matter what the route, no matter who’s on him, no matter what’s called, leverage, distance of the route."

With Julian Edelman out, Amendola has been on the receiving end of some of Brady's quicker-hitting passes. He's also become one of Brady's security blankets in gotta-have-it spots, converting seven third downs in four games played, which is tied (with Rob Gronkowski, Larry Fitzgerald and others) for fourth-most in the league.  

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"I think Danny’s kind of always found his role in the things we’ve asked him to do," Brady said. "He’s still in that role, and he’s doing a great job of it. I mean, he’s doing as good as he possibly can. I don’t think anyone could do better than what Danny’s doing."

Against Tampa Bay, Amendola caught all eight of his official targets for 77 yards and he picks up five first downs. He also returned three punts for 51 yards, and his 40-yard return may have gone for more had he not been run into by teammate Brandon Bolden.

"I thought Danny gave us a lot of critical plays in the game," Bill Belichick said on Friday. "He gave us punt returns, some catches and he blocked well. He had a couple of key blocks in the running game, as well, so I thought he really did a solid job for us in all the areas, in all of the things that he was asked to do, which he usually does. He's one of our best and most dependable players."

Brady clearly feels the same way about the 5-foot-10, 185-pound pass-catcher.

"He’s just been so great for us this year," Brady said. "I’m going to try to keep finding him because when you have that kind of trust, when you see it play after play after play -- you know, you’re the quarterback. You’ve got one ball. It goes to the guy who’s open, and Danny’s always finding a way to get open."

Keeping Amendola may have been the Patriots most important offseason move

Keeping Amendola may have been the Patriots most important offseason move

FOXBORO - Is it possible that in an offseason of wheeling and dealing, the most important move the Patriots made was to keep a guy who's been on the roster since 2013? 

Potentially. That's how critical Danny Amendola has been to making the Patriots one of the most potent offenses in football. 

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Despite missing Week 2 with a concussion, Amendola is on pace for one of the best seasons of his career with 23 receptions on 27 targets for 267 yards and a touchdown in four games. He's already tied his receptions mark from 2016, and if he stays healthy he's tracking toward an 86-catch, 1,000-yard season - both would be career-highs. 

The key for Amendola is always his health -- he played in 12 games last season and he missed two in 2015 -- but with Julian Edelman out, he's become a key part of the offense. 

If he plays 15 games, and if Tom Brady looks his way at the current rate, he'd hit 100 targets for just the third time in his career. According to STATS, he's tied for second among receivers in third-down conversions (7) behind only San Diego's Keenan Allen.

Against Tampa Bay, Amendola turned in one of his best performances of the young season, catching all eight of his official targets for 77 yards. He had three more catches that were wiped out due to penalties -- one of those was his own offensive pass-interference call, but on the next play he caught one for 14 yards and a first down. It was one of five first-downs he converted in the game.

Amendola also returned three punts for 51 yards, and his 40-yard return may have gone for more had he not been run into by teammate Brandon Bolden.

"I thought Danny gave us a lot of critical plays in the game," Bill Belichick said on Friday. "He gave us punt returns, some catches and he blocked well. He had a couple of key blocks in the running game, as well, so I thought he really did a solid job for us in all the areas, in all of the things that he was asked to do, which he usually does. He's one of our best and most dependable players."

It's hard to believe that in the offseason, as the Patriots started to build up their roster, there were some who wondered if the team might actually part ways with Amendola, 31. 

The 5-foot-10, 185-pounder was never going to remain on the books at his originally-schedule base salary of $6 million, so a reduction, or a release, was inevitable. To stick with a winning organization, in a system he knows, in an area where he has family, Amendola agreed to his third reduction in salary in as many seasons. 

But even after that financial nod, there were some who wondered if he'd be kept on to play behind Brandin Cooks, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan and possibly Malcolm Mitchell. 

After injuries to Edelman and Mitchell have led to an increased role for the 31-year-old, that restructure now looks like one of the wisest moves the Patriots made all offseason. 

The Brandin Cooks trade is right up there. He has come as advertised, helping the Patriots win a thriller last Sunday against the Texans with 131 yards receiving and two scores. He's played almost 90 percent of the offensive snaps. And despite a bad drop over the middle against the Bucs on Thursday night, he led the team with 85 yards receiving on five catches. 

After that? Stephon Gilmore? Dwayne Allen? Mike Gillislee? Rex Burkhead? David Harris? Lawrence Guy? Kony Ealy...? 

There's not a single offseason move that's helped the Patriots more than keeping Amendola.

"The guy, he’s a great football player and he does a lot of things well," Josh McDaniels said Friday. "He’s tough, he always makes an impact when he’s in there, he blocks hard, he gets open in the passing game, he catches the ball, he’s hard to tackle, he returns punts, makes big plays in the kicking game, he’s a great teammate. 

"There’s nothing I don’t love about Danny Amendola. Every time he’s out there, you feel good about what may happen if the ball is headed towards him, and he always comes up big in the biggest moments or biggest games. Danny’s having a very good beginning to the season, and we want to continue to try to do that."