The New England Patriots best wide receiver in training camp has been Danny Amendola, and that’s saying something considering how well rookies Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce, and Kenbrell Thompkins have performed thus far. It would be a disappointment, though, if Amendola wasn’t the best receiver on the Patriots roster, because they did invest a solid amount of money and years in their new slot receiver, and Amendola has impressed with his terrific route-running, quickness, improved long speed over Wes Welker, and budding rapport with Tom Brady that has everyone talking.
New England Patriots receiver Danny Amendola (80) runs a drill during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Bill Belichick seems to absolutely love Amendola, and he spoke highly of the Patriots talented slot and “Z” receiver again. Belichick called Amendola “very dependable, via ESPN Boston, “He’s become a very dependable player for us. He doesn’t make many mental errors. He’s a guy who is usually in the right spot and has a good understanding of defenses and what he’s supposed to do. You can tell he’s been in the league for four years.”
That’s more high praise sent Amendola’s way, and he definitely does look like a dependable receiver on tape (it’s no wonder why Sam Bradford loved to dump it off to him). His improved athleticism and speed over Welker is what makes the rounds, but you can’t forget how reliable and smart Amendola is. While I would give Welker the edge in the following departments, it’s only a very slight edge, as you can’t forget that Amendola is extremely quick, recognizes coverages very well, and has the top-notch route-running to boot. Additionally, Danny Amendola has better hands than Welker, and I’m sure a few fans who frequent this blog are most happy about that (I am personally more forgiving of drops as long as a player is really productive, which Welker was).
New England Patriots tight end Jake Ballard is proof of just how difficult it is to come back from microfracture surgery, which just saps out a lot of speed, cutting ability, and athleticism from a player. We can only hope that Ballard recovers well, and he hasn’t healed up fully yet. He missed practice on Saturday, and it was reportedly due to sore knees.
According to the Providence Journal, Jake Ballard is still having issues coming back, and beat writer Paul Kenyon writes that Ballard has “slowed” since starting off training camp well. This report from the ProJo is especially troubling, because it means that Ballard’s knees are still weak and are having trouble coping. Ballard is not a lock to make the roster, and this is something I stated heading into camp and something I feel more strongly about now that Zach Sudfeld is backing up his college tape with incredible performances. As it stands right now, Sudfeld could very well be the Pats No. 1 TE if Rob Gronkowski is indeed (this is expected to happen) placed on the reserve/PUP list.