FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Quick-hit thoughts and notes around the New England Patriots and NFL:
1. When newly-signed Patriots receiver Jordan Matthews made the classy gesture to call Danny Amendola to see if he was OK with him wearing his old No. 80, the first thought that Amendola had was to honor the original No. 80.
"I told him that when I was there, it was Troy Brown's number and Troy Brown is one of the all-time great Patriots, and is a guy I've always respected and really appreciated," Amendola relayed. "So hats off to Troy Brown. It was an honor to wear No. 80 in New England."
As for the phone call, Amendola called Matthews "a good friend" as they have kept in touch after first meeting at quarterback Sam Bradford's wedding in Aspen a few years ago. In their chat, Amendola relayed some of his experiences with the Patriots before Matthews asked about No. 80.
"I told him, first of all, I appreciate the call," Amendola said. "I know he will play hard. I know he'll make a lot of plays in that number. So long live 80."
2. A few other leftovers from a ride-along interview with Amendola:
Remember when Amendola injured his ankle in a Dec. 4, 2016, game against the Los Angeles Rams, and missed the final four regular-season games before returning for the playoffs? He showed me the scar on his ankle, revealing for the first time that he had a broken bone requiring surgery. He still returned about a month later for the playoffs.
Asked to pick the biggest catch of his career, he chose the 4-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter to beat the Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game, when he leaped high in the back of the end zone, and kept his feet in bounds on the back line.
The first thing that comes to his mind with Tom Brady? "Lifestyle. He's created a lifestyle for himself, and not only is he a great player, not only does he know everything about the game, but he raises his teammates' level of play. So he's the GOAT."
He seemed to choke up briefly when speaking of Julian Edelman. "One of the best aspects of our friendship is how competitive we are, and we compete in everything -- whether it be ping-pong, walking in the hallway, in the weight room, on the football field. One of the main things I have to say about Julian and our friendship is that I would love to thank him for everything he's done for me and he's really raised my game off the field, on the field. We really kind of thrive off each other. We're each other's biggest fans, and he'll always be my boy. I'm going to miss playing with him."
His view of the NFL: "There's two sides of this league. One side is amazing, beautiful, it's the art of football, camaraderie, a lot of life lessons that I've learned through this game and a lot of things you learn in the locker room. The other side is business, man, and to tell you the truth, business is rough, business is ugly, and as long as you can, stay positive and always focus on the camaraderie, the teammates, the bond, and then you can kind of let all the business stuff play out. That's kind of the approach I've taken."
3. The Patriots have yet to make a formal announcement, but as the "Football Scoop" website first noted, the club has hired Cameron Achord as an assistant coach. Achord, who has ties to special teams coach Joe Judge from Mississippi, has already been out on the scouting trail representing the Patriots to help fill the void created by the departure of assistant special teams coach Ray Ventrone. Achord spent the last five years as an assistant coach at Southwest Mississippi Community College, and had been elevated to interim head coach before the Patriots came calling.
4a. Did You Know (via ESPN's Stats & Information): The Patriots have 16 first-team All-Pro selections via the draft since 2000, which ranks behind the Panthers (18), Cowboys (17) and Seahawks (17).
4b. Did You Know, Part II: The Patriots' 63 Pro Bowl selections via the draft since 2000 is a league-leading total, followed by the Cowboys (62) and Chargers (50).
4c. Did You Know, Part III: The Patriots have had at least one rookie free agent make the opening-day 53-man roster for 14 straight seasons, which is the third longest streak behind the Chargers (21) and Colts (19).
5. Bill Belichick might have been playing the connect-the-dots game with reporters when it comes to quarterback Tom Brady, who isn't expected to be in attendance at Monday's start of the offseason program because he's on a trip to Qatar for personal business. Perhaps knowing there has been plenty of media-based chatter about the state of his coach-player relationship with Brady this offseason, and without directly addressing it, Belichick seemed to go out of his way to hint they've had at least one talk. Said Belichick: "We have the voluntary offseason program that starts on Monday. It will be heavily attended, but I know there are a couple players that I've talked to that have other commitments, but that's the way it always is. So, not really anything new there."
6. Players often say that the bonds they can create as teammates won't fade even if they sign elsewhere in free agency, and one example of that came a few weeks ago when former Patriots running back Shane Vereen (2011-2014) was married in California and there was a strong contingent of his former New England teammates on hand -- a group including linebackers Niko Koutovides and Dane Fletcher. Vereen, by the way, is an unrestricted free agent after three seasons with the Giants.
7. Jordan Matthews took four free-agent visits before deciding to sign with the Patriots, and from that experience, this is what stood out to him about New England: "There was a lot of intentionality during the visit. They were very detailed. They were very specific with me on what they thought about me and areas they thought I could grow. I appreciated that more than anything. I appreciated that type of honesty." Matthew said it was the antithesis of the "OK, we're just bringing people in" vibe.
8. One leftover from Bill Belichick's pre-draft news conference: Since the NFL allowed compensatory draft picks to be traded in 2017, he said it altered the value chart the team uses during the draft. "That changes things a little bit because they are capital to move up, move back, or you could move into those spots, or trade them for other players," he said.
9. It is anticipated that Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater will meet with local reporters on Tuesday, which will be the second day of the team's offseason program. It will be interesting to hear what Slater says, if anything, about his free-agent visit to the Steelers before he ultimately re-signed. Here's another thought: With the NFL considering the idea of eliminating kickoffs if injury rates on the play aren't reduced, how would that possibility affect the career of someone like Slater if he was entering the NFL today?
10. With the likelihood that the NFL schedule will be released this week, a recap of the Patriots' 2018 opponents:
Home: Chiefs, Texans, Colts, Packers, Vikings, Bills, Dolphins, Jets.
Away: Steelers, Jaguars, Titans, Lions, Bears, Bills, Dolphins, Jets.
Best opening game possibility? There are a lot of solid choices, with the Titans under first-year coach Mike Vrabel atop my list.