So for the third straight offseason, Amendola accepted a pay cut to remain with the franchise.
“I love playing for this city; I love playing for this team; I love the atmosphere Coach [Belichick] brings when we walk into the building every day,” he said. “I want to play good football, and I feel like this is the place where I’ll be able to challenge myself and play the best football I can.”
As for the thought of ending his career after the Super Bowl, Amendola said, “I still have more to play, man. My body feels really good. I feel the best I’ve felt in a long time.”
“Oxygen is a factor,” he said with a smile.
“I want to play football for some more time. I’m not done yet,” Amendola said, when asked a second time if he had considered retirement. “Wherever that may be, whatever it is, wherever it is. I want to play football at a high level. This is where it’s going to be, so I love it here. I’m going to try to make this team and try to fulfill my role, whatever that may be. Try to expand my role, whatever that may be. Try to be here for my teammates and try to win games. That’s why I am here.”
As for his role, Amendola projects as a fourth or fifth option behind Julian Edelman, Brandin Cooks and Chris Hogan, with second-year pass-catcher Malcolm Mitchell also in the mix. Amendola’s steadiness as a punt returner adds to his value.
The coaching staff has managed Amendola’s repetitions in recent seasons with the idea of preserving him with the full season in mind, and that figures to continue in 2017.
In a sense, it has already started in training camp.
Amendola, who turns 32 on Nov. 2, has been eased slowly into the mix at practice since camp began July 27. He received his most extensive work in Saturday’s rainy session that featured a lot of situations, with Belichick calling out down and distances with players forced to react quickly.
Amendola described the approach this way: “The main deal is to just be ready for the first game of the year [Sept. 7] and have my body ready to go. The plan was never set in stone.”
Amendola added that “sometimes the coaches do a good job holding me back. If I were to get out there too soon, if I wasn’t ready, or if I had something that was bothering me a little bit, I would play through it sometimes and it would make things worse. I feel like pace is a huge part of being successful through preseason and then on into the season. I like to go full speed all the time. Sometimes it’s good to … right now, I’m kind of easing into it and getting ready.”