10 things Patriots fans should be thankful for

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Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

8. Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola

These guys get grouped together because they serve more or less the same role in the Patriots’ aerial attack, the slot man who Brady relies on to get open in short-yardage areas.

Edelman’s 2015 stat line consists of 61 receptions on 88 targets for 692 yards and seven touchdowns. His 37 first downs and 327 yards after the catch rank 11th and 10th, respectively, among all pass catchers. Without a doubt, Edelman is a top-five slot receiver, and his presence was certainly missed on Monday Night Football in Week 11.

While not in the same category as Edelman, Amendola is a very solid player in his own right. Through 10 games, the former St. Louis Rams wideout has accumulated 520 yards and two touchdowns on 49 receptions. Before exiting the game with a sprained knee injury, Amendola accounted for the bulk of the Patriots’ yards through the air by snagging nine passes for 117 yards.

As long as Edelman is out, Amendola will be extremely valuable. Thankfully, Amendola was present at Wednesday’s walk-through practice.

Back to Edelman, we can be thankful that his injury wasn’t of the ACL variety like Dion Lewis a few weeks back. The Patriots are fortunate that Edelman will be back in time for the playoffs; until then, Amendola will pick up the slack.

Next: 7. Surprisingly good pass defense