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WR Danny Amendola ready for bigger role with New England

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FOXBOROUGH, Massachusetts — Danny Amendola celebrated a one-handed touchdown catch at New England Patriots camp Friday by getting up and firing the ball into the stands.

That's worth a fine during games. Not in training camp.

"It was just a souvenir — appreciation for the fans coming out," Amendola said after making the catch over cornerback Logan Ryan during the workout.

It came as part of a day that had to be busier than usual for Amendola with four fellow wide receivers among the 21 Patriots missing from the practice field, a number that grew as practice continued. With Julian Edelman (fifth straight day), Aaron Dobson, Brandon LaFell and Brian Tyms absent with various undisclosed problems, the remaining receivers were called on for extra work.

Amendola, who also handled his return duties, didn't seem to mind.

"Reps are reps. You want to get as many reps as you can," he said. "Try to make the most out of them when you get them. It's just opportunity.

"It's practice. We're running all day in practice anyway, regardless of what it is."

Amendola said quarterbacks Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo "are both great" and, asked about Garoppolo's progress in his second camp, said, "He's learning. Every day he's coming and he's trying to get better every day. and that's all you can ask for."

After signing a five-year free agent contract with the Patriots, Amendola suffered through an injury-plagued first season with the club in 2013. He was almost a forgotten man at the start of 2014, but came on late and was a real factor after he started returning kicks in a game against the Jets on Dec. 21.

He had 12 catches in the last two games of the regular season and 11 more in three postseason games. He scored two touchdowns in the divisional playoff against the Ravens and one in the Super Bowl against the Seahawks.

In short, he has turned into an important cog in the New England machinery. But that, he says, doesn't change things for him in training camp.

"I've got the same mentality," he said. "It's my eighth camp now, so . just get better every day, that's what I focus on, no matter what.

"It's a tough camp, man. It's physically tough, but that's what coach (Bill Belichick) demands. I love it. I love coming out each day and walking into the locker room and feeling like you gave it everything."

NOTES: Running back LeGarrette Blount, suspended for the regular-season opener for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, suffered what appeared to be a right knee injury and hobbled off the field. Center Bryan Stork and rookie nose tackle Malcom Brown also left with injuries. . Tight end Scott Chandler was among the other players missing. . The officials on hand made the Patriots-Seahawks Super Bowl fight a point of emphasis in a video shown to the players and media. . Safety Patrick Chung tipped a Brady pass into the hands of fellow safety Devin McCourty for Brady's second pick of the camp.


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