With the reputation of being fragile and injury prone, Danny Amendola's name on the Patriots injury list this week should be no surprise.
Amendola was signed to be the Patriots new slot receiver to replace Wes Welker, who flew the coop to Denver. It has to be a concern when Amendola shows up on the injury report prior to the first game of the season with an apparent groin injury, especially since his predecessor hardly ever missed a game. In fact, in six seasons with the Patriots, Welker only missed three games total and that includes suffering a serious MCL and ACL injury at the end of 2009.
Welker was durable throughout his career, while Amendola, although highly skilled as a slot receiver, has been the opposite. Amendola has an extensive injury history. He had a horrid dislocated elbow injury that cost him all but one game in 2011. In 2012, he missed games to a heel injury that landed the 5-foot-10, 188-pound receiver in a walking boot. That same season, he suffered a severely broken clavicle that threatened to puncture his trachea and aorta. The clavicle landed him on the shelf for three more weeks. Not to mention he dealt with ankle and shoulder injuries.
The Patriots signed Amendola last March to a five year, $28.5 million contact and it's safe to say he is important to the Patriots offense in 2013. During the preseason, Amendola showed he has the ability to get vertical down field and he certainly has more "big play" ability than Welker.
In very limited play during the preseason, Amendola had seven receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown.
|Danny Amendola (Kevin Saleeba / Patriots Insider)|
"He's a very good receiver," said Patriots coach Bill Belichick about Amendola during the preseason. "He can play outside, play inside. He can run after the catch, has returned kicks. He has good ball skills. Good concentration … I know the quarterbacks are gaining a lot of confidence in his route-running and catching ability."
In a fairly short time, Amendola has built good chemistry with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
"(Amendola) is incredibly hard working," Brady told the media this week. "He loves football, and he wants to do the right thing. He's had a lot of production in the league when he has been on the field and been healthy. Hopefully he can continue to do the things he has since he got here. I don't want to put any expectations on him. That's really for him to earn, but he is a big part of our offense and hopefully he has a very productive year."
Brady said it correctly, until Amendola can prove he can stay on the field, the "fragile" tag and Welker's shadow will continue hang over his head.
As for Amendola, he says he's ready to go against Buffalo on Sunday.
"I felt good," he said Monday. "Everybody was flying around, everybody looked good. Coming off a couple days off, we were ready to get back at it. So it was a good day. I didn't get in the NFL to practice the whole time. I'm ready for Week One to come around and these games to start rolling around. I'm ready."
For Amendola's sake, he better be ready!
Kevin Saleeba is the senior editor and columnist for Patriots Insider. A former beat writer for local media, Kevin has extensive knowledge of the team and experience covering the Patriots. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinSaleeba