FOXBORO, Mass. — Let’s get one thing straight: Danny Amendola isn’t going to be Wes Welker. However, the Patriots’ newest slot toy is using his predecessor as motivation to master the Patriots’ offense.
Amendola trotted out onto the practice field at Gillette Stadium in his fresh white No. 80 jersey on Friday for the very first time as a Patriot, and he looked comfortable in it, too. He didn’t look quite as comfortable as Welker did once upon a time, but he’s definitely working toward that goal.
“Welker’s a great player, he’s done a lot of great things,” Amendola said on Friday. “I’m excited to get the opportunity to play here and show my teammates and whoever that [I can] be the best I can be.”
So far, Amendola has been Tom Brady’s No. 1 target, both during the offseason workouts and through one day of training camp. Sure, it’s a small sample size, but Amendola is clearly developing a rapport with the all-everything quarterback and developing chemistry quicker than some of the other receivers. Some of that may be credited to the fact that old reliables like Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman are missing in action, but most of it is a result of the hard work Amendola has been putting in off the field.
Amendola is something of a film junkie. Now, we’re not talking a popcorn-and-ICEE-at-the-midnight-showing-of-(insert your favorite childhood comic book) kind of guy, but rather the nose-in-a-book shut-in that watches hours and hours of game tape to learn more about his opponents as well as himself. The exact type of guy that Bill Belichick fawns over and the kind that Brady can respect.
“Yeah, I’m familiair [with the offense],” Amendola said. “I watch a lot of game film. I’ve seen every game from [the Patriots] last year [and] the year before. I knew what to expect coming in here, that’s why I wanted to be here. I’m excited to be here and excited to work.”
His work thus far has been good, even earning some roars of applause from Brady after a nice route and grab along the sideline on Friday. But, if he wants to be truly great like Welker or even Deion Branch before him, then Amendola knows he needs to model his game after them.
“Yeah, absolutely,” a giddy Amendola responded when asked about following Welker and Branch. “I try to learn from the best motives I have, and there’s no better way than to look at what Tom and these guys were doing before and to do the best I can to be where I need to be.”
Amendola still hasn’t donned the full pads and game pants yet, but, much like Welker and Branch before him, he already seems to be fitting in well with the Patriots’ team philosophy and, maybe even more importantly, earning Brady’s trust.