FOXBORO, Mass. – Put Tom Brady in front of a microphone or a crowded room and he’s as cool as a cucumber. Nobody is more relaxed. But, get him out on the football field and he’s as fiery as they come.
Danny Amendola got his first real dose of that side of Brady on Tuesday after making a nice catch during the first day of Patriots minicamp. He seemed to enjoy it, too.
“We got open and made a play,” Amendola said, smiling about the connection. “It was only one play, and we’re trying to stack as many of those up as we can.”
Amendola made a quick route adjustment during an 11-on-11 scrimmage, tipping Brady off to the coverage and then making a nice play on a ball over the middle. The result energized Brady, but it seemed to be Amendola’s smarts and recognition that really got the quarterback hyped up.
Brady threw his hands in the air and began shouting like an excited schoolboy in praise of Amendola as he trotted back to the line of scrimmage. That sort of praise would help motivate any receiver, especially one new to the Patriots’ complex offense. But, for Amendola, it’s Brady’s fire and passion that’s really inspiring him.
“Watching Tom and being on the outside, you see that fire and you see him get amped up in games,” Amendola said after practice on Wednesday. “That’s the type of guy you want to play for. For him to do that in practice, in OTAs, when we’re going against each other — our own team — to have that fire and that desire to win is really uplifting. He does a good job of lifting up the whole team and getting everybody to play really hard. He’s one of the best.”
There’s been plenty of Brady excitement to go around so far in minicamp, too. After one completion to Lavelle Hawkins in the back of the end zone on Tuesday, Brady turned to the defensive sideline and celebrated in their direction before finding his receiver to celebrating again. Nothing quite topped that moment on Wednesday, but Brady kept the enthusiasm up and continued to shout out praise to get his teammates going.
Amendola has been feeding off that enthusiasm throughout his few weeks in Foxboro, but he’s also been absorbing as much of Brady’s fountain of knowledge as he can to better acclimate to the Patriots’ system.
“He’s been in the system for about 11 years, I think. I’ve been in here for about three weeks,” Amendola said with a clever smirk. “He knows every route inside and out — just as well as the coaches. It’s really good to have a leader like Tom, and a leader like coach [Josh] McDaniels and coach [Chad] O’Shea and Bill Belichick to lead us in the right direction. We’re all trying to play hard for them.”
Brady, meanwhile, has kept a keen eye on Amendola since he’s come to New England. He’s taken notice of his physical skill set, which is pretty evident on first glance, but it’s Amendola’s commitment and tenacity that have impressed Brady most.
“We talk about a lot of things,” Brady said on Wednesday. “So it’s when you can take something from the film room or correction the previous day and actually apply it on the field, in maybe a little bit of a different looks and a little bit of a different play, but he can pick it up it’s fun. That’s how you make improvements. That’s how you exceed expectations is to continue to do the right thing over and over.
“We talked about something and the first time he didn’t quite get it, and the second time we talked he got it a little bit more but not quite. Finally we nailed it. Hopefully, once you get that feeling of nailing it, you can understand it.”
Brady and Amendola have seemed to “nail it,” so far. Their chemistry seems to be growing by the day, so much so that even Brady compared it to that of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. That’s some big praise for a receiver who’s been here for no longer than a few cups of coffee.
Amendola has impressed so far, but he knows he still has a way to go in this offense. Luckily for him, he’ll have Brady pushing him to be better every step of the way.