Check out photos from access to players and coaches as the New England Patriots prepare to play the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium.
Danny Amendola is clearly on the mend.
The veteran wide receiver didn't travel with the Patriots to Denver last weekend after he sustained a left knee injury the previous Monday against Buffalo. However, Amendola has attended and/or taken part in every practice since the injury.
While it's still too early in the week to know for sure whether he'll be healthy enough to suit up this Sunday versus Philadelphia, his willingness to talk to reporters about the ailment Wednesday could be interpreted as a positive sign that he's not too far away from returning to game action.
Amendola admitted that he suffered the injury at the end of his 41-yard catch-and-run in the third quarter, when cornerback Ronald Darby tackled him and Amendola's left knee absorbed the brunt of the impact. He was able to stay in the game for the next play – a James White touchdown run – but was in obvious discomfort during that play.
Yet, when the Bills punted on the ensuing possession, Amendola was on the field as the return man. He ran up to catch the ball, but at the last moment, waved it off and let the ball hit the turf. At that point, he limped to the sideline, where the team's medical staff examined him and where he remained as a spectator for the duration.
Prior to today's practice, in which Amendola again took part, he shared some thoughts on his current condition.
"I didn't think it was bad at first," he revealed, "and then I couldn't run. Couldn't turn over my legs, really, at a high rate. So, I knew I was going to have to leave. I wasn't going to hobble around out there and get killed.
"It didn't hurt when I was walking around. So, I figured, 'Why not go test it [on the punt return].' And it wasn't able to go."
Had he been at full strength, he added, he would have fielded the kick. Amendola also admitted it was difficult to sit out this past weekend and watch as his team let a 14-point lead slip away in the fourth quarter, especially when a muffed punt by rookie Chris Harper was one of the decisive plays in the game.
"It's hard. You obviously put a lot of hard work in during the year and want to be out there every game… just got to deal with it. Injuries are a part of the game. It's a rough game. Everyone in this locker room probably isn't at 100 percent, but you have to do what you can with what you've got."
Candid though he was in his remarks, Amendola wouldn't go so far as to say whether or not he'd be available for Sunday's 4:25 kickoff against the Eagles. He would only look ahead to Wednesday's practice.
"I'm just going to do what I can to help us win. I'll go out there today and prepare and see how I feel. That's the only thing I can worry about, really. I feel good. We'll see how it goes."
Wide receivers added
Even though it looked like he was a scapegoat for the muffed punt, Harper, who was released by the team Monday evening, was re-signed to the practice squad, where he'd spent the majority of the season. New England also signed Austin Hill to the practice squad. The rookie was on the practice squad earlier this season before being released in November.
In addition, the Patriots brought in veteran pass catcher Damaris Johnson to supplement the position on the 53-man roster. Johnson entered the league with Philadelphia in 2012, spending two seasons there. He was with Houston last season and this summer until being released at the end of the preseason. Until the Patriots called, he said he'd been working out at his New Orleans-area high school.
"A lot of guys I played with in high school are coaching there now, so I work out with those guys," Johnson explained. "I just go in, do routes with them individually and kind of do my own thing when they get into a team workout.
"It was great. I go there every offseason. I'm always there. It wasn't anything new, like 'He's here.' It's kind of regular. They don't even notice me. I'm a small-statured guy, so if somebody is just walking by, I fit in with those guys anyway."
Johnson is happier now, of course, that he has a job in the NFL again, and he said his experience with Houston and Bill O'Brien, New England's erstwhile offensive coordinator, should help him get up to speed quickly on the Patriots playbook.
"I feel good just to get picked up," Johnson continued. "I've been sitting at home for a while, been working out and stuff. Getting picked up by a team that I'm familiar with because we ran basically the same offense as I was in Houston last year, so it feels good.
"I looked over some of the stuff that we put in so far. It feels good to look at stuff that you actually know what's going on."
Tight end Rob Gronkowski (right knee), wide receiver Julian Edelman (left foot), DL Dominique Easley (ankle), and rookie CB Justin Coleman (right hand) did not practice. Easley presumably was injured against the Broncos.
Meanwhile, LB Dont'a Hightower, who injured his left knee against Denver, was sporting a brace on it today and took part in practice on a limited basis.