|Countdown to Camp: Wide receivers||07.21.15 at 9:27 am ET|
As training camp approaches, we’ll offer a position-by-position breakdown of the 2015 Patriots. We open with a look at wide receiver.
Depth chart (2014 regular-season stats via Pro Football Reference): Danny Amendola (27 catches, 42 targets, 200 yards, 1 TD), Josh Boyce (none), Aaron Dobson (3 catches, 5 targets, 38 yards), Julian Edelman (92 catches, 134 targets, 972 yards, 4 TDs), Brandon Gibson (29 catches, 51 targets, 295 yards, 1 TD with Miami), Chris Harper (none), Jonathan Krause (none), Brandon LaFell (74 catches, 119 targets, 953 yards 7 TDs), Brian Tyms (5 catches, 11 targets, 82 yards, 1 TD).
THREE THINGS WE KNOW
1. This is a big summer for Aaron Dobson. Heading into his third year in the league, the Marshall product acknowledged this spring he was excited to put 2014 season behind him. Last year, he started slow because of an offseason foot issue and by the time he was able to get on the field consistently he had been surpassed on the depth chart by a group of pass catchers, including Brandon LaFell. He did get back to live action, but ended up shutting it down for good after a hamstring injury in the November loss to Green Bay. The 24-year-old, who had one of the best rookie seasons for any receiver during the Tom Brady era (37 catches, 519 yards, 4 TDs), was able to show some good things over the course of the spring workouts with LaFell on the shelf. With camp just around the corner, he needs to be able to build on those successes if he wants to regain his spot as a key member of the New England passing game.
2. Brandon LaFell is more than just a good blocker. One of the more underwhelming free agent signings of last offseason, the 6-foot-2, 208-pound LaFell came to New England with a rep as a quality blocker, as well as the ability to occasionally show good hands and separation speed. And after a slow start (averaging two catches for 37 yards over the first five games of the season), he really came on nicely as a pass catcher and proved to be a dependable option for Brady, particularly when it came to intermediate routes. He ended the year with six games of six or more receptions, including an October win over the Bears where he finished with 11 catches for 124 yards and a touchdown. Among regular receivers, he led the team in yards per reception (12.9 yards per catch) and enters the 2015 campaign as the only seasoned deep threat on the roster. Provided he’s past the offseason foot surgery (he missed spring workouts, and was spotted in a walking boot), he figures to be an important part of the Patriots’ passing game in 2015.
3. For the second straight year, Julian Edelman is the closest thing the Patriots have to a No. 1 receiver. We said as much at the start of the 2014 season, and it was proven over the course of another year for the college quarterback. While there was plenty to like about his performance over the course of the regular season, he saved his biggest performance for the playoffs, where he became a household name: In all, he finished the postseason as the league’s leading receiver in several areas, including most catches with 26, most targets with 37, most receiving yards with 281 and most touchdown passes by a wide receiver (one, a memorable connection with Amendola in the divisional playoffs against the Ravens). His playoff resume now includes an astounding effort in the Super Bowl against the Seahawks, where he finished with nine catches on 12 targets for 109 yards and a touchdown. Those nine catches included a pair of third-down pickups in the fourth quarter that helped keep late drives alive — with one reception punctuated by a bone-rattling hit from Seattle defensive back Kam Chancellor. Brady, who has become his BFF, called him a “phenomenal player” who earned every ounce of praise he received. “It’s great to see it, and I’m just real proud of him,” added the quarterback the day after Super Bowl XLIX.
|Mike Petraglia, Chris Price talk Matt Flynn, Brian Tyms, minicamp highlights||06.17.15 at 6:42 pm ET|
FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price discuss backup quarterback Matt Flynn, his role behind Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo, the maturation of Brian Tyms, the role of Danny Amendola going forward and the closing of Patriots minicamp on Wednesday.
|Thursday OTA notes: Return of Malcolm Butler highlights workout||06.11.15 at 2:21 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The return of Malcolm Butler was the big story at Thursday’s OTA session, as the cornerback returned to the field after some time on the sidelines, and declared that he didn’t “miss a step.” Clad in a cutoff short and shorts, the Super Bowl hero went through a series of drills with his teammates on a warm day in back of Gillette Stadium. Here are a few notes on the practice, which ran from roughly 11 a.m. to 12:45 on the practice fields.
It was a relatively light workout in comparison to the two other OTA sessions the media witnessed. There was little 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 work — at quarterback, most of that most of that was given to third-stringer Garrett Gilbert. Tom Brady looked sharp in 11-on-11 work, only missing on one of his dozen pass attempts.
Butler jumped right back into the mix, taking that appeared to be a usual number of reps at cornerback, and didn’t appear to have missed a beat. He drew a big group of reporters after the workout, and talked about his absence over the previous couple of weeks.
Per usual, there were no numbers, so identifying players was tough. However, we didn’t see the following individuals on the field: Matthew Slater, Jamie Collins, Sealver Siliga, Dont’a Hightower, Jerod Mayo, Brandon LaFell, Dane Fletcher, Sebastian Vollmer, Chandler and Chris Jones, Ryan Wendell and Alan Branch.
Like last week, Rob Gronkowski and Scott Chandler spent time working together off to the side while the rest of the team went through kickoff drills. And like last week, it appeared that most of the work was focused on the red zone and goal-line situations. It bears repeating that the sizable duo will create some matchup issues all over the field, but particularly at the goal line.
There was a second kicker on the field working with the special teamers. Not sure who he is yet — hopefully, there will be some clarity on that sooner rather than later. Speaking of special teamers, Danny Amendola was again part of a group that spent time returning kicks, a collection that included Josh Boyce.
Former Patriot Sammy Morris was on the field working with the running backs.
|Teammates support Tom Brady at Best Buddies event||05.30.15 at 1:02 am ET|
ALLSTON — Tom Brady hosted his annual charity football game on Friday to benefit Best Buddies International, a nonprofit organization that aims to create opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Brady was not the only current Patriot in attendance. The quarterback was joined by the likes of Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich and Dane Fletcher. Jones wasn’t spotted at Friday’s OTA, but was present at Harvard Stadium to be with some of his teammates.
Brady didn’t address the media like he typically does at halftime, likely because of his pending four-game suspension, which he is appealing.
Edelman and Amendola entered the game in the second quarter as members of opposite teams, with Edelman suiting up for Team Natixis and Amendola seeing time for Team Hublot. Brady targeted and completed passes to both during their time on the field, as he served as quarterback for both teams.
At halftime, the pair helped Brady take part in a throwing endeavor that involved him completing five passes to receivers at increasing distances. Each successful pass marked another sum of money that Hublot would donate to Best Buddies and Edelman and Amendola served as the final two targets. Both caught their respective passes and aided Brady in raising the donation total to $25,000.
In his street clothes during the fourth quarter, Ninkovich joined Team Hublot and was responsible for the team’s winning score. He picked off Brady and returned it to the red zone before flipping it to a teammate for the touchdown that gave his team the win in the final seconds.
Also in attendance were Governor Charlie Baker and comedian Dane Cook. They played in the fourth quarter and each caught a pass from Brady.
Brady, a Global Ambassador for Best Buddies, served as one of the events three co-chairs, the other two being Guy Fieri and Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III. The Event Chair was John Hailer, President and CEO of Natixis Global Asset Management for the Americas and Asia.
Hublot CEO Ricardo Guadalupe and President of Hublot Latin America Rick de la Croix were also at the game to launch a Best Buddies cycling watch, some of the profits of which will be donated to Best Buddies.
Brady will also take part in Saturday’s Best Buddies Challenge: Hyannis Port, which features a charity walk, run and ride.
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
|Danny Amendola explains why he restructured his deal: ‘This is home to me. … I love being here’||04.28.15 at 4:08 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Danny Amendola has no regrets about restructuring his contract to stay in New England. As a matter of fact, there’s no place he’d rather be.
The 29-year-old receiver made that much very clear Tuesday when he took a break from offseason workouts at Gillette Stadium to speak with reporters and explain why he signed a three-year, $12.75 million dollar deal that will carry him through the 2017 season.
“I love playing for this team, I love playing for these coaches, this organization,” Amendola said. “I’ve got family out here, this is home to me. I love playing for this team; it’s a great experience and I’d like to prolong that as long as I can. It’s been fun.”
“It’s a business and everybody treats it like a business. Obviously you love playing football, you love being around the locker room, you love being around your teammates, and that’s really the most important thing for me. I love the group we have here, I love the work ethic everybody puts in every week, I love being here, so that’s why I chose to come back.”
Last season did not start off well for Amendola and it affected his final numbers. He only caught 27 passes for 200 yards and one touchdown.
But something clicked in the playoffs. Against the Ravens, he caught five passes for 81 yards and two touchdowns, including a 51-yard score thrown by Julian Edelman in a 35-31 win. After catching just one pass for eight yards in the AFC championship, he turned it on in the Super Bowl. Amendola caught five passes for 48 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown that cut Seattle’s lead to 24-21.
“You know what, it’s been great. I have a lot of great memories from the game, it’s something we’ll all remember forever, but we’re really focused on moving forward,” Amendola said. “We’ve got a lot of new faces in the building and a lot of goals and a lot of hopes for this upcoming year; that’s really the only thing we’re focused on now.
“You know, we’re the hunted now, so we have to prepare that way. We’re working hard and we’re getting a lot of good work in right now.”
And to Amendola there’s no change in the team’s approach that he’s seen in the first two weeks of workouts.
“No, it’s the same,” Amendola said. “We’re still as hungry as ever, we want to go out there and prove a lot of things to a lot of people, so we’re working hard and we’re getting a lot of good work accomplished.”
Amendola looked relaxed Tuesday, even joking about his quarterback skipping out on the White House visit last week when asked about it.
“Yeah, he’s trying to get his bench press up,” Amendola said of Tom Brady, who reportedly stayed behind in Foxboro to work out. “I don’t know what he’s trying to do, but Tom’s our leader, Tom’s our guy. I don’t know what his political stance is.”
Asked if he were offended by Brady’s absence, Amendola added, “No. I don’t know what he was doing (smile).”
Read the rest of this entry »
|Resetting Patriots depth chart: Wide receiver||04.11.15 at 9:10 am ET|
With the majority of free agency completed and the draft looming, we’re going to take a look at the Patriots depth chart by position, and try and assess the level of need going forward. We started with special teams and tight end. Now, it’s wide receiver:
Current depth chart: Julian Edelman (92 catches, 134 targets, 972 yards, 4 TDs), Brandon LaFell (74 catches, 119 targets, 953 yards, 7 TDs), Danny Amendola (27 catches, 42 targets, 200 yards, 1 TD), Brian Tyms (5 catches, 11 targets, 82 yards, 1 TD), Aaron Dobson (3 catches, 5 targets, 38 yards ‘ ended season on injured reserve), Brandon Gibson (29 catches, 51 targets, 295 yards, 1 TD for Miami last year), Josh Boyce, Jonathan Krause, Greg Orton and Kevin Dorsey.
Lost in free agency: None.
Gained in free agency: Gibson and Dorsey, both of whom were officially added on March 11. While Dorsey figures to be a special teamer/depth signing, the addition of Gibson could add some competition to the mix. The 27-year-old is a 6-foot, 210-pounder who entered the NFL as a sixth-round draft pick by Philadelphia in 2009 out of Washington State. He’s played in 76 games with 46 starts and has 233 receptions for 2,711 yards and 13 touchdowns. Gibson does have some positional versatility, but did spend an awful lot of time in the slot the last two seasons with the Dolphins, but it will be interesting to see where he lines up with the Patriots.
Other changes: None. Edelman figures to remain the No. 1 option at wide receiver, while LaFell had a very strong first year in New England, and Amendola came on strong down the stretch. (Prior to Week 16 against the Jets, Amendola had 15 catches for 113 yards and one touchdown on the season. In the five remaining games ‘ including the playoffs ‘ he had 23 catches for 224 yards and three touchdowns.) This remains a big offseason for Dobson, who suffered a lost season in 2014 ‘ offseason foot surgery meant he got off to a slow start, and he was eventually shut down in November after a hamstring injury. He’s only 23, but from this viewpoint, the franchise would love to see more urgency and consistency from him in 2015 as he tries to take his game to the next level.
Is this an area of need going into the draft? Not on the surface, but there are some rumblings that the Patriots might surprise people by going after a wide receiver with one of their high value picks, either on the first or second day. This report from Jason LaCanfora seems to suggest New England is at least considering a handful of names in the first round, including Louisville‘s DaVante Parker, Central Florida’s Breshad Perriman or Mizzou’s Dorial Green-Beckham as possibilities. For a team that would appear to have serious needs at other spots ‘ cornerback, offensive line ‘ a wide receiver in the first round would represent one of the bigger draft curveballs in recent Patriots’ draft history. (For the record, Bill Belichick has never taken a wide receiver in the first round since he took over in New England in 2000.)
|Report: WR Danny Amendola restructures deal with Patriots||03.12.15 at 12:48 pm ET|
The Patriots were able to gain some financial flexibility this week, as they have apparently managed to restructure the contract of wide receiver Danny Amendola. According to multiple reports, Amendola’s new deal covers three years, is worth $12.75 million, and can max out at $15 million.
The 29-year-old Amendola struggled over the course of 2014, finishing with 27 catches for 200 yards and a touchdown. But he became a major special teams contributor, and played well down the stretch and into the postseason.