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Danny Amendola on MFB: ‘We’re vibing on offense’ 07.30.14 at 1:18 pm ET
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Wide receiver Danny Amendola checked in with Middays with MFB on Wednesday afternoon following Patriots practice. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

“I’m feeling good,” said Amendola, who battled injuries throughout 2013, his first season in New England. “I’m running around, feeling real strong, feeling healthy and ready to go.”

Injuries aside, Amendola was able to adapt to the Patriots system, something other receivers have struggled to do. However, Amendola made it clear there’s plenty of work ahead.

“This playbook’s constantly evolving,” Amendola said. “We try to change stuff up every day and progress and get better. I’m learning. Everybody’s out here learning every day, trying to get better. We’re seeing some good things out there. We’re competing. We’re vibing on offense, trying to compete with the defense to try to get better every day.”

There have been some intense battles between the receivers and the defensive backs early in training camp. Amendola said there’s a lot of trash-talking but no lingering hard feelings.

“It’s very competitive. It gets heated at times. But at the end of the day we’re brothers and we’re family,” he said. “Nothing carries over from the field to the locker room, which is huge, very professional. Everybody out here is trying to get better every day. It’s going to get heated, it’s going to get competitive. But at the end of the day, we’re family.

Rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is under the microscope after the Patriots selected him in the second round of May’s draft.

“He’s doing well. He’s catching on quickly. I know he’s working really hard,” Amendola said. “The coaches are doing a great job of putting him in a position to learn and to get as many reps as he can and make the throws he needs to make. He’s a rookie. He’s getting better.”

For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Danny Amendola, Jimmy Garoppolo,
Brandon LaFell: ‘I haven’t been consistent, I think I am getting better’ 07.29.14 at 9:56 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Brandon LaFell is hardly the first offensive player to come to the Patriots and struggle to get with the system. Even last season, Danny Amendola needed several regular season games under his belt before he was comfortable. It’s no secret that learning the Patriots playbook can be a challenge for any player coming over from another organization.

With the complex offense quarterback Tom Brady and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels run, training camp is one of the most important times of the year, especially for wide receivers to get on the same page as their quarterback.

For LaFell, a four-year veteran, he is still in the learning process phase after he was signed by the Patriots on March 17 coming over from Carolina after spending his first four seasons in the NFL with the Panthers. Although it’€™s only the fifth day of training camp, LaFell feels he is getting better with each passing day.

“I’€™m getting better and better everyday,” he said. “We put in a lot of plays, every night is study night for me, something I am not used to because in Carolina we ran the same offense for three years so I knew it. It’€™s a ton of work every night. The more and more I get reps — I started feeling good at the end of minicamp and then we took the long break so now I am trying to get back in the swing of things.”

LaFell, self-admittedly, had a rough first few days of camp with several drops in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 situations, but he’€™s aware of it and followed that up with a productive day on Tuesday.

“I think I’€™ve been OK,” said LaFell. “I haven’€™t been consistent. I started out slow the first couple of days with a few drops, but I picked it up from there so as of now I think I am getting better, but it is still early in camp. I have to learn to be consistent and put good days together back-to-back like the rest of this offense. We need to start putting good days back-to-back and if we continue to that we’€™ll get better.”

The 6-foot-3, LSU-grad, made possibly the catch of training camp thus far on Tuesday when during passing drills on a deep ball from Brady, he split Malcolm Butler and Nate Ebner in coverage taking the ball away from them in the end zone. The play fired up the offense, Brady in particular, as he met the receiver on his way back to the huddle emphatically patting him on the back.

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Read More: 2014 training camp, Brandon LaFell, Danny Amendola, New England Patriots
Julian Edelman and his love affair with punt returns: ‘I love returning punts’ 07.28.14 at 10:59 am ET
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FOXBORO — Julian Edelman knows he’s a wanted man.

Since the departure of Wes Welker, he’s become the No. 1 wide receiver target of Tom Brady and second only behind Rob Gronkowski in terms of priority passing options for the Patriots quarterback. Defenses last season began to understand this and that figures to be the case again this season as Edelman draws more and more attention.

But like Welker, Edelman’s value goes far beyond the passing game. He is one of the best weapons in the game as a punt returner – ever.

Surprised? Consider that he is tied for fourth best all-time (minimum 75 returns) with Devin Hester at 12.3 yards per return and is only a half-yard from George McAfee and Jack Christiansen for the best average in NFL history.

No one is calling Edelman’s return skills “ridiculous” as was the case with Hester but still, those are lofty numbers and explain why Bill Belichick wants to devote such important resources to give Edelman the best chance at making big plays on retuns. Sunday, he was back again receiving punts as Devin McCourty and Darrelle Revis were defending the opposing gunner while Brandon Browner was on the opposite side.

“I think it’s key just because we have a returner in Julian who can make big plays and he can score touchdowns,” McCourty said. “For us, we just have to go out there and give him a chance. We’re all guys that have been in the league. We’ve all done it before, and if we give him a chance, I think he can make big plays and that helps the team win.”

Edelman’s numbers fell a bit in 2013, averaging 10.7 yards per return with a career-high 23 fair catches.

“When you get 10 yards that’s your goal and when guys are working together you get a little more which is great,” Edelman said about the importance of the entire special teams unit. “But our number one job on that unit is to get the ball in the offense’s hand and make the right decision.”

Sunday, it paid off as Edelman thrilled the 10,000 fans in attendance by breaking free down the right sideline on one return. For Edelman, it’s part of his roots with the Patriots, something he has always enjoyed because it earned him a spot on the roster.

“That’s a part of the game that gave me an opportunity to make this team,” Edelman said. “I love returning punts. I want to do that and if they ask me to do that, I’m going to do it.”

If he doesn’t do it or is unable to perform those responsibilities, the duty will fall to Danny Amendola or possibly rookie Roy Finch, assuming his makes the team. Finch took some return reps Sunday, including a bobble, but recovered quickly.

“You guys remember when I was a rookie bobbling the ball around everywhere and getting booed by the crowd, but he’s just got to get some experience, repetition,” Edelman said, adding perspective. “You got to work on catching punts, finding the tip of the ball — if it turns over, if it doesn’t — what foot punter it is, the trajectory of the punt, what return you have — if it’s a return, if it’s not a return — the situation in the game,” Edelman said. “All that stuff. It comes with experience. I still have to try in practice every day to improve what I have to do because it’s a craft. If you don’t do it every day, it will slip away.”

Read More: 2014 training camp, Danny Amendola, Devin Hester, George McAfee
As far as veterans are concerned, rookie QB Jimmy Garoppolo making the grade 06.09.14 at 6:00 am ET
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Jimmy Garoppolo was taken in the second round out of Eastern Illinois. (AP)

Jimmy Garoppolo was taken in the second round out of Eastern Illinois. (AP)

FOXBORO — It’s only been a handful of OTA sessions, but to this point, the Patriots veterans have been impressed with the work of rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

The consensus seems to be that he’s not only delivering the goods on the practice field — albeit in limited snaps behind Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett — but he’s fully aware of his place in the locker room hierarchy as a rookie.

“I’ll tell you, he shocked me, man,” running back Stevan Ridley said after last Thursday’s workout. “He came in [and] he seems confident. He is a rookie, though. Everybody’s going to make mistakes, but he’s quiet, and he has been working hard.

“I didn’€™t know too much about him, but as I watched him, I liked him the more I watched him,” Ridley added. “He’€™s what we expect out of a quarterback. You don’€™t say too much — you just take it in and do your job.’€

In last Thursday’s practice session, the first action for Garoppolo in full view of the media, there were some good throws and some bad throws, including an interception on a ball picked off by linebacker Chris White. All in all, a rookie performance in the rain that was probably about par for the course for a young quarterback at this time of the offseason.

Garoppolo wasn’t made available to the media after the session, but some of the other offensive veterans acknowledged they have been impressed with the rookie, who has managed to emerge as an early leader among the first year players.

“The guy is pretty good — he’s got a lot of talent,” said wide receiver Brandon LaFell. “He’s a rookie, so he has a lot to learn. But he has a lot of potential. If he continues to work, he’ll be a good quarterback in this league.”

Wide receiver Danny Amendola had the chance to work out briefly with Garoppolo prior to the draft, and said that the rookie out of Eastern Illinois has impressed him as a “smart” player.

“He’s a smart player,” Amendola added. “I don’t know if they ran the same offense in college, but he’s picked up the system really well. I know he’s been putting in his time and his work getting in the books. He’s been doing good so far.”

In addition, Amendola added that Garoppolo has shown a nice command of the huddle, at least to this point.

“That’s huge. It’s one thing to throw the ball and make the plays on your feet. But to actually control 10 other guys and get them to where they need to be is a huge part of playing the quarterback position. He’s learning from the best [in] Tom and Mallett. He’s doing well.”

Read More: Brandon LaFell, Danny Amendola, Jimmy Garoppolo, Ryan Mallett
4 thoughts on Patriots, free agency, who’s still out there at WR 03.17.14 at 6:30 am ET
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Dane Fletcher is off to Tampa Bay. Do the Patriots need to build more depth at inside linebacker? (AP)

Dane Fletcher is off to Tampa Bay. With the loss of Fletcher and Brandon Spikes, do the Patriots need to build more depth at inside linebacker? (AP)

1. Dane Fletcher signed with Tampa Bay on Sunday, the second inside/middle linebacker the Patriots have lost to this point in free agency. (Brandon Spikes went to Buffalo earlier.)

Fletcher isn’t a tremendous loss — he was a backup who provided defensive depth at the position, as well as some special teams value. (His shining moment in 2013 likely came in the regular-season win over the Broncos, when he stepped in for a struggling Dont’a Hightower and played significant snaps down the stretch and into overtime.) But from a personnel standpoint, that means a new generation of linebackers likely will be given the chance to step into the void, a group that includes Steve Beauharnais.

Even with a few guys capable of stepping into that spot, there’s the likelihood that New England tries to go out and acquire one more linebacker/special teamer, either in the draft or free agency. The Patriots tried to go after former Broncos linebacker Wesley Woodyard, but he ended up signing with the Titans.

From this viewpoint, South Dakota linebacker Tyler Starr could be a late-round possibility in the draft. (For more on why he might be a fit with the Patriots, check out our story here.)

It’s not a colossal priority at this point, but it’s a personnel question that needs to be addressed between now and the start of offseason workouts.

2. The last few seasons, the Patriots have made a habit of adding veteran free agent wide receivers in free agency — not household names, but relatively anonymous guys who might be a fit in Foxboro. Last year, that group included LaVelle Hawkins, Michael Jenkins and Donald Jones, none of them ultimately worked out.

And so, on the surface, there might be inclination to link them to Brandon LaFell — who was acquired Saturday as a free agent — to last year’s group. But taking a look at LaFell’s work, he might be a step up from that group. LaFell has some positional versatility, having worked on the inside, in the slot and split wide, and his versatility, combined with his surprising size (6-foot-2, 210 pounds), likely puts him a step ahead of veteran wide receivers acquired in year’s past.

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Read More: Aaron Dobson, Brandon LaFell, Brandon Spikes, Dane Fletcher
Mike Florio on M&M: Patriots might be better off passing on Aqib Talib and making a run at Darrelle Revis 03.04.14 at 12:05 pm ET
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Mike Florio

Mike Florio

Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com checked in with Mut & Merloni on Tuesday to discuss news from around the NFL, including speculation that the Patriots might be interested in acquiring Buccaneers cornerback Darrelle Revis. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Florio suggested that Revis could be on the move prior to March 13, when he’s due to receive a $1.5 million check, and a 2014 fourth-round draft pick the Buccaneers sent to the Jets in last year’s trade would become a third-rounder.

“Those two things combined suggest that if there is going to be a move, it’s going to happen by next Thursday or it’s not going to happen at all,” Florio said. “That’s what it comes down to — it’s not going to happen if it doesn’t happen by the 13th. And the question becomes, can some other team persuade the Buccaneers to make the move. Last year it was the Jets wanting to move Revis. This year the thinking in league circles is that there are other teams that would like to shake Revis away from Tampa.”

Two teams Florio mentioned as potential landing spots are the Patriots and Broncos.

“I’ve heard from someone I trust very much the speculation that it is the Broncos and the Patriots who are trying to stir this ‘Revis can be/Revis will be/Revis could be,/Revis should be traded’ idea, to put the idea in the Buccaneers’ heads to move on from Darrelle Revis. Would the Broncos or the Patriots like to have a shot at him? I believe they would. Does that mean the Buccaneers are ready to trade him? No. ‘€¦ The question is convincing the Glazers [who own the team] to do it. But they’re going to save $16 million in cash if they do it.”

Meanwhile, the Patriots passed on franchising Aqib Talib as they try to determine if it’s worth spending big money to keep the free agent cornerback in New England.

“I think Talib at least is going to get an $8 million-a-year offer, if that’s what [Brent] Grimes is getting from the Miami Dolphins,” Florio said. “And the problem for the Patriots — and this is an Aaron Hernandez offshoot — you can’t give a big chunk of money to a guy with a history of off-field issues less than a year after Aaron Hernandez blew up in your face. You just can’t do it.”

Florio doubted that Talib would take a hometown discount to return to Foxboro.

“Are the days still around where somebody would take less to stay with the Patriots? I don’t know that that vibe exists anywhere except maybe in Seattle. And it would be more somebody taking less to join the Seahawks than someone taking less to stay with the Seahawks,” he said. “So, I think they’re going to have to compete with the highest bidder. And if the Patriots don’t compete with the highest bidder, then he could very well be going elsewhere.

“And when you’re in a position where from a PR standpoint it’s very difficult to give a guy a bunch of guaranteed money on the hope that he doesn’t revert to the things he was doing in Tampa, allegedly or actually. That’s a big risk to take. And other teams don’t have that same PR risk.”

Added Florio: “That’s where this whole Revis thing comes from. When you think about what it’s going to cost to keep Talib on a long-term deal, what the costs are from an off-field risk standpoint, it’s very easy to get yourself to the point where you can justify making a run at Revis. And you throw in the icing on the cake of sticking it to the Jets. Because one of the reasons the Jets traded Revis last year was to get him out of situation where he could walk out the door and sign with the Patriots as a free agent this year. For him to end up with the Patriots would be the ultimate kick in the pants to the New York Jets. And I’m sure that the Patriots would like to be able to pull that off. If they think it’s a good football move, you throw on top of that tweaking the Jets, and they’re not going to feel bad about doing that.”

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Read More: Aqib Talib, Danny Amendola, Darrelle Revis, Julian Edelman
Peter King on M&M: Aqib Talib a better option than Darrelle Revis for Patriots 03.03.14 at 2:40 pm ET
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Peter King

Peter King

Sports Illustrated writer Peter King joined Mut & Merloni on Monday to talk about the possibility of Buccaneers cornerback Darrelle Revis being on the move, Aqib Talib and his future, and more. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

With rumors that the Patriots and Broncos are interested in trading for Revis, King said the biggest hurdle is money.

“I think that you have to restructure his contract if you’re the Patriots,” King said. “€œAnd that’s, to me, I think one of the issues that you start with when you start asking about whether you want a guy, is you have to find out, OK what exactly is that guy going to cost?”

Added King: “In essence Tom Brady, last year, his cap number was about [$]13.8 [million]. It’€™s going to go up a million bucks this year. It’€™ll be about 14.8. It’€™ll never be, under his current deal, his money will never be what Revis’ money is. So you have to ask yourself, ‘Are we going to bring somebody in that’€™s going to make more money than Tom Brady?’ ”

King favors keeping Talib over Revis due to his familiarity with the system plus the cost of a draft pick.

“€œIf you’re able to sign Talib, who’s a proven player in your system, for less,” King said, “€œI would, and you get to keep, say, your number one either this year or next year, I know that’s something I would prefer to do.”

Cornerback Brent Grimes signed a four-year, $32 million extension on Monday with the Dolphins. King points out that Talib is younger and healthier than Grimes, but has more off-field issues.

“€œIf I’m Aqib Talib, I’m saying, as a player, I’m worth a little bit more than Brent Grimes,” King said. “The only issue then becomes, well, what about the problems you’ve had off the field that Brent Grimes hasn’t had. So, I think it could counterbalance itself, but that’s why I think if I’m talking about Aqib Talib, I’m talking not very long term and about 8 or 9 million [dollars] a year, I think that would be fair.”

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Read More: Aqib Talib, Danny Amendola, Darrelle Revis, New England Patriots
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