They say everything happens for a reason, and through four weeks it appears that what seemed like bad luck has ultimately worked out fairly well for the Patriots after all.
It’s hard not to wonder if Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson would be as far along as they are had Danny Amendola not gotten hurt. (USA TODAY Images)
When Danny Amendola and Shane Vereen went down in week one, it’s safe to say that the majority of Patriots fans would never have expected this football team to run off three straight wins. After that game considering how much Tom Brady struggled connecting with everyone else not named Julian Edelman, the clamoring immediately started for any available able-bodied veteran from Dante Stallworth, Deion Branch, Brandon Lloyd, fans wanted someone to come in and fix what everyone at the time thought was a massive mistake made by the team to put this offense in the hands of rookies.
As it’s turned out, it’s probably the best thing that could have happened. Amendola was targeted 14 times in week one, matching Kenbrell Thompkins total but with much different results. Brady connected 10 times with Amendola during the victory compared to just four with the rookie, who couldn’t seem to do very much right in that game. Had Amendola remained healthy it’s tough not to wonder if the trend would have shifted more toward throwing the football to he and Edelman in the weeks to come, potentially slowing the transition of trying to get Thompkins acclimated.
Instead Amendola ended up being sidelined, which kept Thompkins as a focus in the offense. Aaron Dobson missed the first week in Buffalo but came back in week two, and he had his own rough start after being targeted 10 times with three catches, although his first ever NFL reception was a 39 yard touchdown. Both players have taken advantage of the additional snaps and targets that they may not have necessarily received had things worked out differently. Now here they both are four weeks in, and suddenly the youth and speed New England has makes them one of the more dangerous offenses in the league.
Amendola seems closer to returning, which could make things tough on one player, with Josh Boyce being potentially the odd man out. Boyce has already seen limited snaps this season and finally made his first reception in Atlanta Sunday night, but he seems to be farther behind the rest of the group at this point in the season. How that will play out in the coming weeks remains to be seen, but at this point the Patriots have a strong young group of players who have suddenly made that position deeper and faster than it’s been in quite a while.
In retrospect, it’s hard not to wonder if the execution and timing would be where it is if those guys hadn’t been forced into the fire so early in the season. Fortunately after four weeks they’re not starting to look like rookies any more, and that’s certainly encouraging now that the Patriots are about to embark on what will likely be a tough run in the weeks to come.
BRADY VS EDELMAN – AN ENTERTAINING BATTLE
Since coming in as a rookie 7th round pick and making the transition from college quarterback to receiver, there’s no doubt that Julian Edelman has been one of the better stories over the years. This season all his hard work is paying off, with Edelman tied for the NFL lead in receptions with 34 and he’s actually ahead of former receiver Wes Welker, who has 26 in Denver. However, Brady’s not surprised and he’s pleased that the veteran has had the success he’s had. Brady talked about him Wednesday and had some entertaining comments about him.
“He’s done great taking advantage of his opportunities,” said Brady. “He and I spent a lot of time together over the years. I’m glad it’s really paying off. He had a great opportunity to take advantage of and he’s done it. It’s a credit to him and his work ethic, his mental toughness.
“To play college quarterback with such – I’d love to see those old tapes of him running around because he’s kind of a spaz, I don’t know if you guys know that. I always say, ‘God, what were you like in the huddle as a quarterback? How could anyone look at you seriously?’ But I guess he did pretty good. He definitely can’t throw the ball so he made the right switch to receiver at the right time.”
Edelman needled him later on, telling reporters that he would have beat Brady out at Michigan, with Brady responding that he wouldn’t have even been able to get into Michigan to begin with. Funny stuff.
EDELMAN LEADS THE CHANT AFTER FALCONS WIN
Watching “Inside the NFL” Wednesday night I caught the segment with the Patriots and Falcons, and they had some additional footage after the game from inside the locker room. Interestingly enough Julian Edelman lead the chant for his team after the game. “How’s it feel to come down to the dirty south and be 4-0? – Awwww Yeah!” It shows you how far he’s come, and obviously he’s become one of the leaders in the locker room.
ON TO THIS MORNING’S LINKS:
Knee injury forces Stevan Ridley to miss practice – Mike Whitmer – Whitmer has an entry on Ridley, who was sidelined during practice Wednesday with a knee injury.
Defensive consensus: Patriots will have to step up – Michael Whitmer – Whitmer files his notebook this morning, and writes that as reality sets in that Vince Wilfork is no longer in the line-up, everyone else will need to work harder on that side of the ball.
Clean slate for Nate Solder – Jeff Howe – Howe has an article on Solder, who he writes has been nearly flawless so far this season.
Play-action has reaction – Karen Guregian – Guregian writes that one thing that has helped the Patriots receivers so far this season has been the Patriots running play-action.
More bumps, bruises on offense – Jeff Howe – Howe files his notebook this morning and writes that after missing his first practice of the season, Stevan Ridley’s reported “knee” injury is actually just a thigh bruise that tightened up on him before yesterday’s session.
Rob Gronkowski: No rift with Pats – Field Yates – Yates has an article on Gronkowski, who spoke to reporters Wednesday and disputed claims he’s at odds with the team regarding his return.
Edelman’s emergence lights up Brady – Mike Reiss – Reiss has a good article on the relationship between Tom Brady and Julian Edelman, with some funny comments from yesterday’s press conference.
Penalty watch: Patriots vs. Bengals – Mike Reiss – Reiss has a look at the penalties for the Patriots, with a breakdown of how they shape up against other teams.
For Patriots, new season has brought completely new offense – Christopher Price – Price has a column on the offense, and writes that through four games this unit bears little or no resemblance to the one that buzzed through the NFL in 2012.
Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski disputes rift over health – Rich Garven – Garven has comments from Gronkowski, who denied there’s any issue between he and the team in terms of his his rehabilitation.
Patriots have linemen to take Vince Wilfork’s place – Rich Garven – Garven writes that the “next man up” approach is now in place as Chris Jones and Joe Vellano try and step in to try and replace Wilfork on the defensive side of the ball.
New England Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount has earned Bill Belichick’s trust with crafty running – Nick Underhill – Underhill has an article on Blount, who received praise from Belichick Wednesday on a run that didn’t even gain a yard.
ATTLEBORO SUN CHRONICLE:
Vellano ready to fill big role – Mark Farinella – Farinella has an article this morning on Joe Vellano, and reflects on his start back on August 22nd when the rookie started in place of Wilfork during a preseason game in Detroit.
Wilfork loss felt by whole team – Mark Farinella – Farinella files his notebook, which leads off with comments from Wilfork’s teammates about what his loss means to the defense.
PATRIOTS NOTEBOOK: Green-Ellis anticipates no carryover effect – Glen Farley – Farley files his notebook this morning, which leads off with comments from former Patriot BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who will make his first return to Foxboro on Sunday.
METROWEST DAILY NEWS:
Patriots Beat: Vellano is ready for his closeup – Tim Whelan Jr. – This is a great feature on Vellano, who was among just four players in 2012 that were named first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference.
It’ll take team effort to replace Wilfork – Paul Kenyon – Kenyon writes that the Patriots are about to make some changes in the way they play defense now that Wilfork is out for the season.
Patriots Journal: Gronk satisfied with his path back to field – Paul Kenyon – Kenyon files his notebook this morning which leads off with Gronkowski, but he also writes that Danny Amendola said he “felt good” but wouldn’t reveal his status.
NATIONAL FOOTBALL POST:
Another Candidate Enters the Discussion – Len Pasquarelli – Pasquarelli has an article on the fact that through four games it’s difficult to leave Aqib Talib out of the conversation regarding the league’s best cornerback.