Merrill: Amendola has tough act to follow

In her “Hot Read” posted Wednesday, ESPN.com’s Elizabeth Merrill identifies the players in the NFL who have the biggest shoes to fill. Among those featured was Patriots receiver Danny Amendola.

Amendola, of course, enters this season trying to live up to expectations set by Wes Welker, who over six seasons in New England caught more than 110 passes five times and averaged more than 1,200 yards per season.

Below is the section devoted to Amendola:

The comparisons have followed Danny Amendola since college, when he followed Welker at Texas Tech. Welker is 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds; Amendola is an inch taller and a couple of pounds heavier.

Both men were receivers, both were shunned in the NFL draft. When Welker left for Denver in the offseason, it seemed only natural that his replacement would be Amendola, who no doubt is getting tired of the countless comparisons.

"Not really," Amendola said after a Patriots practice last month. "Wes is a great player. I don't really think too much about it. He has nothing to do with how I play. I've been watching him play for 10, 15 years now, so that's it."

Welker led the league in receptions in three seasons -- 2007, 2009 and 2011. In two of those years, the Patriots went to the Super Bowl. But in New England, anyone, with the exception of maybe Brady, is replaceable. When Welker and the Patriots couldn't agree to a contract last spring, they signed Amendola just hours after Welker signed with Denver.

While the Ravens, Bears and Rams held off on reassigning the numbers of their exiting stars this year, New England spared the sentimentality. It assigned No. 83 to a receiver who wound up failing to make the 53-man roster.

Like Welker did, Amendola has quickly connected with Brady. The quarterback has raved about Amendola's work ethic and enthusiasm. And Amendola has already taken cues from his coach, Bill Belichick, exuding team-first quotes.

"Our whole room is doing a good job of trying to fulfill the role they have," he said. "I surround myself with a lot of positive influences. Don't worry about the things you can't control, and work as hard as you can every day. That's it."