FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Julian Edelman’s shoes will be tough to fill, but the New England Patriots have a capable candidate in Danny Amendola.
Edelman broke his left foot during the first quarter of New England’s last-second win over the New York Giants last Sunday, leaving quarterback Tom Brady without his top wide receiver.
Amendola filled in admirably, making 10 catches for 79 yards against the Giants, and the Patriots will need a similar performance Monday night against the Buffalo Bills to remain unbeaten.
“I’m just going to focus on my abilities and what I can do,” said Amendola, now in year three with New England. “Try to put the best product on the field.”
Amendola signed with the Patriots in March of 2013, around the same time fan-favorite Wes Welker left in free agency to join Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.
Ever since, Amendola has played second fiddle to Edelman among the wideouts.
“He’s a great player,” Amendola said. “He did a lot for our offense, made a lot of big plays.”
Aaron Dobson, a third-year receiver with 12 catches for 124 yards in seven games, could also help fill the void despite playing in just under 30 percent of the Patriots’ offensive snaps.
“His timing, his overall technique and consistency has improved,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. “I know it doesn’t always show up on Sundays, but I’d say he’s had a good year.”
Edelman had been Brady’s favorite target through nine games, leading the team with 61 catches — twelve more than star tight end Rob Gronkowski — for 692 yards and seven touchdowns.
“You wish you could just plug someone else in, but that’s impossible,” Brady said. “Julian Edelmans just aren’t sitting out on the street, or else they’d be playing for another team.”
Amendola has 19 fewer catches than Edelman, totaling 403 yards and two touchdowns this season, but has done enough to earn the trust of his coach — dating back to his Patriots debut in 2013 when he had 10 catches for 104 yards in a season-opening victory against the Bills.
“He’s made a lot of big plays for us in critical situations,” Belichick said. “Very dependable guy, great hands. I know Buffalo two years ago, the catches he made in that game were remarkable.”
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