After being a full participant on Day 1 of training camp, Danny Amendola has been limited until the last couple of days. It's unclear exactly why the veteran pass catcher has spent much of the previous days on the lower practice field, working with fellow teammates who are known to be working their way back from various injuries.
Speaking to reporters after practice Saturday, Amendola didn't shed much light on the reasons, but declared himself fit and ready for an increased workload.
"My body feels really good. I feel the best I've felt in a long time. I'm excited to get out there, get some reps, more plays in the preseason [games], and go from there.
"The main deal is just to be ready for the first game of the year, and have my body ready to go. That was just the idea," he added about his limited work to start camp. "The plan was never set in stone, but having the ability to adapt and get work every day and get better every day is the goal.
"Sometimes, the coaches do a good job of holding me back. If I were to get back out there too soon or wasn't ready or had something that was bothering me, I would play through it and it would make things worse. Pace is a huge part of being successful through preseason and into the season. I like to go full speed all the time, and sometimes it's good to… I'm easing into it and getting ready."
While the Patriots added young, talented firepower to the wide receiver position with Brandin Cooks this past offseason, Amendola agreed to restructure his contract for the third consecutive year in order to remain with New England. When asked if he ever considered retiring after the Patriots' victory in Super Bowl LI, Amendola responded unequivocally that he intends to keep playing as long as possible, preferably in Foxborough.
"I'm not done yet… I love it here. I'm going to try to make this team and fulfill my role, whatever that may be, and try to win games. I love playing for this city, this team, I love the atmosphere Coach [Belichick] brings when we walk in the building every day. I want to play good football. This is a place where I'll be able to challenge myself to play the best football I can. Ultimately, that's why I'm here."
Getting a kick out of camp
Since the Patriots drafted him in 2006, Stephen Gostkowski has handled New England's placekicking duties, with the exception of 2010, when he missed half that season with a quadriceps injury in his kicking leg.
By and large, the now 33-year-old has performed at the highest level, earning four Pro Bowl honors and becoming the franchise's all-time leading scorer along the way.
The last couple of seasons, however, have seen Gostkowski struggle at times, yet he enters his 12th season as the lone kicker on the Patriots roster. He will be the first to tell you, though, that he doesn't take his status with the club for granted and that he takes to heart all the missed kicks for which he is responsible.
Check out our favorite images from Patriots Training Camp at Gillette Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017.
"Kicking is like a love hate relationship and you lose weeks of sleep over a bad game, and a bad game can be one missed kick," he told reporters during training camp.
"It really is a challenge, because you become a perfectionist. You expect perfection, and it's kind of tough when you don't live up to those expectations. I can only remember a couple of the kicks I've made and I remember almost everyone I missed. The ones you miss you try to get out of your head and quickly as possible and try to make the next one."
Gostkowski asserted that he has learned more about himself and his craft during his relative down seasons than he has from his near-perfect campaigns. Going back out to perform after missed kicks has strengthened his mental toughness, he believes.
"I just always try not to get too high when I'm doing well and not get too low when I'm doing bad," he explained. "That can come off as looking like I'm nonchalant or looking like I don't really care, but I really do care.
"I'm just not going to, every time I screw up, throw a temper tantrum. I'm just going to try to stay cool, calm and collected, because if I selfishly go out there and miss one kick and pout and whine and cry, and go out there and miss two more in that same game, then I'm doing my team more of a disservice than just sucking it up and trying to go out there and do it right the next time."
So far this summer, while Gostkowski hasn't converted every attempt, he certainly appears to be relaxed and kicking consistently well.
"It is nice to be back at work, and you start at square one," stated Gostkowski. "You build up a momentum in [training camp] and try to get better each week. I'm around guys that work hard and do the right things for the team and it is easy to put your head down and fall in line. It's fun when you win and have success and you have success being around successful people."
Ducks in a Rowe
With Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore seemingly at the top of New England's cornerback depth chart, one of the most interesting position battles this summer has been for the third corner job. Third-year player Eric Rowe is among those under consideration and has been taking full advantage of his opportunities, many of which have come in the slot, where the tall Rowe (6-1, 205) isn't used to lining up.
"I'm trying to learn all the spots… I did play a little slot in the beginning [of my career] when I was in Philadelphia. It's not like I'm completely new to it," he pointed out. "I just go to the hotel every night and review our next set of install plays. We come out here, Coach throws me in the slot role, and we run them. Right now, I feel pretty good.
"I feel like I have a lot to grow. I still feel like I'm behind in cornerback experience because I only had one year [of it] in college," added the converted safety. "Usually, corners that come out play at least three years of corner in college. Obviously, I'm getting a lot better understanding of the position [now in the NFL], but my potential is still way up there."
Rowe arrived in Foxborough at the end of the 2016 preseason and fought off a couple of injuries to contribute in nine regular season games, seven of which he started, and all three postseason affairs. He answered candidly when asked for his reaction to the team's offseason signing of Gilmore.
"It surprised me. I was on vacation and saw it on television. That threw me off, but it's just another challenge in a way. He's a great teammate, good guy. Yeah, it kind of pushed me down, depth chart-wise, but my mindset is to come out here and keep making plays. That's how I have fun.
"My head right now is, how am I going to get better this day. Obviously, you have to do that before you can go for the top spot. I'm still trying to improve myself, show the coaches I can fit in the system. Just trying to string up consistent days of good work."
Buy: Dwayne Allen – Despite the wet conditions, the tight end make a number of clutch catches, continuing his strong start to training camp.
Sell: Derek Rivers –The rookie DE and top pick in the 2017 Patriots draft class has had a quiet summer so far.
Play of the Day: During 11-on-11 teamwork, backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo lofted a deep pass to second-year WR Devin Lucien between the numbers and the left sideline. The throw was a bit behind Lucien, who was forced to adjust his body by spinning 360-degrees in the air to make the catch in between two defenders.