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Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola appear close to returning to practice field 07.29.16 at 1:06 pm ET
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Julian Edelman

Julian Edelman

FOXBORO — While wide receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola haven’t participated yet in the first of two Patriots training camp sessions as they both are on PUP, it would appear they are making strides towards joining the rest of the team.

Edelman had offseason foot surgery after missing significant time last year with a broken foot, while Amendola had minor offseason surgeries on his knee and ankle.

The two were on the field for the second straight day, but didn’t participate in any drills. At the beginning of Friday’s session the two threw passes back and forth with one another for a good portion of time and then during practice ran hills together for about five minutes.

This is promising news for both of them as if they weren’t close to be returning, they wouldn’t be doing what they did Friday.

It’s especially encouraging for Edelman, as some timelines made it sound like his Week 1 availability was up in the air.

Saturday the team will practice in pads for the first time and while it’s highly unlikely the two wide outs return then, their returns could be coming sooner rather than later.

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Read More: 2016 training camp, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman,
Most Important Patriots of 2016: No. 16, Danny Amendola 07.06.16 at 11:45 am ET
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Danny Amendola has turned his New England career around nicely. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Danny Amendola has turned his New England career around nicely. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

As the countdown to training camp begins later this month, we’re going to take a look at the 20 most important members of the Patriots heading into 2016.

16. Wide receiver Danny Amendola

Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 183 pounds
Age: 30 (will turn 31 on Nov. 2)

Resume: You can put Amendola’s New England career into two different categories: in his first 25 games with the Patriots (including the playoffs), he had 68 catches for 805 yards and three touchdowns. Since the Nov. 23, 2014 game against the Lions, Amendola has played in 24 contests with New England (also counting the postseason), and has 99 catches, 947 yards and six touchdowns. (Last year, he ended with 65 catches for 648 yards and three touchdowns.) You toss in the fact that his 12.0 yards per punt return was the best in the league last year, and a pair of signature plays at the tail end of 2014 — a touchdown catch in Super Bowl XLIX and another playoff touchdown reception via Julian Edelman in a dramatic win over the Ravens — and it’s clear Amendola has come a long way from what was an underwhelming start to his Patriots’ career.

Why we ranked him here: When the entire offense is healthy, he’s probably no better than a third option. (Maybe fourth or fifth, if Martellus Bennett and/or Dion Lewis are 100 percent this season.) But his ability to play multiple receiver spots in the New England passing game is incredibly important. He gets lost in the wash from time to time, but it’s worth noting that last year, when Edelman went down (and Rob Gronkowski was lost for a game), Amendola did an excellent job stepping into the void. In a four-game stretch from mid-November through mid-December last year, Amendola had 32 catches on 44 targets for 304 yards and a touchdown. And the fact that he ended with the season with a catch rate of 75 percent — an incredibly impressive number for a wide receiver — says something about his dependability. After an eventful offseason that included a salary restructure and knee and ankle surgery, he’ll be pushed this year by a handful of candidates, including rookie Malcolm Mitchell. But given his body of work the last year-plus, provided he stays healthy, he’ll be part of the mix once again.

Quote: “That was all Danny. We had some guys that hustled back there. We call Danny the ‘War Daddy,’ and the ‘War Daddy’ stepped up and made a play when we needed him to. That really sparked the team, and the sideline had some energy going.” — Matthew Slater on Amendola’s near punt return for a touchdown in a 11/15/15 win over the Giants

Random note: In just three seasons with the Patriots, Amendola has already managed to climb to 11th on the all-time list of most passes caught via Brady with 140.

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Danny Amendola: ‘Jimmy [Garoppolo] is ready’ if Tom Brady is suspended over Deflategate at 10:37 am ET
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Danny Amendola

Danny Amendola

Since no ruling has come down in the Deflategate case, it remains a possibility Tom Brady could miss the first four games of the 2016 season.

Patriots players have supported Jimmy Garoppolo and feel he’s ready to lead the offense if in fact Brady does have the first four games.

Wide receiver Danny Amendola was the latest, as he spoke to WLBZ last week in Maine following a speaking appearance at Sports Radio 92.9 The Ticket for the Championship Kickoff Drive Party at Husson University.

“Whatever the league wants to do, I mean we’re going to have to adapt to that and go from there,” Amendola said. “Bottom line, we have a lot of good football players on our team and Jimmy [Garoppolo] is ready. He’s a good player. He’s learned a lot from Tom [Brady] and he’s learned a lot from Bill [Belichick]. Brady is our captain, Brady’s our guy so we’ll just have to roll with the punches I guess.”

Garoppolo has appeared in 11 games, mostly in garbage time though. He’s 20-for-31 for 188 yards and a touchdown. If Brady does miss the first four games, Garoppolo would likely start at Arizona and then home against the Dolphins, Texans and Bills.

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Tom Brady challenges Danny Amendola to ping-pong rematch 06.29.16 at 2:42 pm ET
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On Tuesday, Danny Amendola went on ESPN and told a story of he and Tom Brady playing ping-pong with Amendola winning and Brady then breaking his paddle because he was so upset.

Brady responded on Wednesday with a Facebook post that read: Hey Amendola, paddle’s fixed. Time for a rematch!!!

Read More: Danny Amendola, Tom Brady,
Danny Amendola feels ‘really good’ after offseason procedures 06.28.16 at 4:47 pm ET
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Danny Amendola

Danny Amendola

It seems everything is going well for Danny Amendola following minor procedures this offseason on both his knee and ankle.

“I feel really good,” Amendola said Tuesday appearing on ESPN’s ‘NFL Insiders.’ “I had a couple minor procedures done after the season. Everybody knows how long the season can be. I wanted to go into next season feeling as fresh and ready as I can.”

Amendola didn’t participate in any spring activities, but was around the facility. Patriots players are scheduled to report for training camp by July 27 and Amendola said he will be spending much of his time before then in California.

The biggest story line going into training camp may be the quarterbacks as Jimmy Garoppolo could see an expanded role depending on the ruling with Tom Brady’s Deflategate case given he could miss the first four games of the season.

If Garoppolo needs to start the first four games, Amendola feels he’s prepared.

“He’s a great player,” he said. “He’s been in the system for a couple of years now, and he’s learned a lot. He’s picked up everything that Tom has taught him and then also what coach (Bill) Belichick has had to offer him. We’re all excited to see where he goes and see what the future holds for him.”

The interview featured a lighter side when Amendola told a story about playing ping-pong with Brady where the quarterback’s competitiveness came out in full force.

“He’s the best teammate,” Amendola said. “He’s so competitive and whatnot. I remember one story: It was my first week in the building, and he wanted to play some ping-pong. I didn’t really know how to go about it. I knew I was better than him, but I didn’t want to beat him too bad, because I wanted him throw me the ball. But I knew I was better. Needless to say, his competitive nature unleashed a broken paddle by the end of it. But it’s the reason why we love him and the reason why he’s the best quarterback.”

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Bill Belichick on absence of Rob Gronkowski, others: ‘They were doing other things’ 06.07.16 at 2:40 pm ET
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Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski

FOXBORO — Bill Belichick is doing his best not to feed into the mystery surrounding Rob Gronkowski.

The Patriots superstar tight end missed the first day of mandatory mini-camp Tuesday at Gillette Stadium. When asked, the Patriots coach hinted that Gronkowski was actually in the building but just not practicing on the field.

“There are a lot of players that were not on the field,” Belichick told reporters in the heat of the sun. “They were doing other things.”

Was Gronkowski expected to be there?

“All of our players are. They’re doing other things,” Belichick said.

What wasn’t clear from the answer was whether Belichick was indicating that all players are expected to be at camp or whether, indeed, they “are” in the building.

Gronkowski has been spotted often recently around Boston, including at the Myra Kraft MVP Community awards last week, where he took a break from working out to make an appearance with Tom Brady at Gillette’s Putnam Club.

Gronkowski was one of several players not spotted Tuesday. Also not on hand were Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, LeGarrette Blount, Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer.

Belichick was also asked if all players reported to mini-camp.

“I don’t know. Whoever is here is here,” the coach said.

There were special guests on hand Tuesday for the start of mini-camp as members of the Navy football coaching staff stood on the side and observed.

“They’re just up here to watch what we’re doing. We have a great relationship with Ken [Niumatalolo],” Belichick said of the head coach of the Midshipmen. “He’s been a good friend and everything I’ve asked, he’s always been there for me.”

Joe Cardona, a graduate of the Naval Academy in 2015, reported to mini-camp on Tuesday. He is beginning his second year with the Patriots.

Belichick said he didn’t know the status of his long-snapper and his availability going forward this summer or whether Naval commitments might take precedence.

“Just keep making progress,” Belichick said. “Each day, just try to build on the day before. A lot of new faces, a lot of new installation, so just grind through it day by day.

“We’re all starting all over. We’re all starting all over, coaches, players, everybody. It’s a new year, we’re all starting over.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
Danny Amendola (reported knee, ankle surgeries) plays in Tom Brady’s Best Buddies game 06.03.16 at 9:39 pm ET
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ALLSTON, Mass. — Tom Brady’s Best Buddies game was held Friday night at Harvard Stadium and had two somewhat surprise participants — Danny Amendola and Dion Lewis.

Lewis, who is coming off of ACL surgery last November, participated at half speed, but Amendola who reportedly had offseason ankle and knee surgeries, looked very good for someone who recently went under the knife. Both were not present at last week’s OTA session open to the media.

Amendola agreed to a contract restructure in May that lowered his 2016 cap hit. Another receiver who reportedly has underwent surgery recently in Julian Edelman was present in a walking boot, but didn’t participate in the game.

Below is video of Amendola moving well.

Read More: Danny Amendola, Dion Lewis, Julian Edelman, Tom Brady
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