FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It was late Monday night into early Tuesday morning and New England Patriots receiver Brandon LaFell offered a glimmer of hope to the biggest injury-related issue to come out of the team’s 20-13 win over the Buffalo Bills on Monday night.
How is receiver Danny Amendola?
“When I saw him, it looked like he was in good spirits,” LaFell said. “I hope it’s nothing major. We’re going to need him soon.”
Amendola’s injury, which the team announced was to his knee, came late in the third quarter on running back James White's 6-yard touchdown run. He was coming off the left side of the line to block and didn’t make contact with anyone, but came up limping.
Amendola came on to return a punt after the Bills’ next drive went three-and-out, but came up hobbling again as he let the ball hit the ground and backed away from it.
He was seated on the bench for the remainder of the game after that, at one point talking with Bill Belichick during a timeout.
"I was hoping it was something he could shake off in a few seconds and get back on the field, but it wasn’t," LaFell said. "Hopefully he’ll be OK, because we’re going to need him for the rest of the year, especially with Jules [Julian Edelman] out."
Amendola wasn’t in the locker room when reporters arrived after the win, but his health was naturally on the mind of his teammates, as LaFell said his thoughts were with not only Amendola, but also fellow receiver Aaron Dobson, who left in the second quarter with an ankle injury and didn’t return.
With both receivers sidelined, it forced the Patriots to adjust offensively, running more multiple tight end packages because they only had LaFell and undrafted rookie Chris Harper as pure receiver options (Keshawn Martin missed a fifth straight game with a hamstring injury).
“We were down to two healthy receivers; you get pretty limited quickly in the things that you can do,” quarterback Tom Brady said.
“It’s real difficult,” acknowledged LaFell. “It’s just like chess out here with us, once one guy goes down, you have to move to another spot, and this guy goes over here, and things like that. So guys can never get comfortable in the situation.”
Losing Amendola for any stretch of time would be a tough blow for the Patriots, who are already without No. 1 man Edelman (left foot) for the foreseeable future, and also lost playmaking running back Dion Lewis for the season on Nov. 8.
Amendola essentially stepped into Edelman’s role Monday and delivered with nine receptions for 117 yards, and the numbers could have spiked further if not for an unusual inadvertent whistle in the third quarter. He was charted on the field for 45 of 50 offensive snaps (including penalties) before hobbling off.
The Patriots have survived by adopting their “next man up” mantra, but it seems fair to ask if this would be too much should Amendola be unavailable.
“We’ve lost quite a few guys over the last three weeks,” acknowledged Brady, who was hit 10 times by the Bills, according to in-game statisticians. “We’ll just keep fighting and figuring out a way to win, and it’s good to win against a good defense.”
Whether they’ll keep fighting with Amendola is the biggest question to come out of Monday night.
Another week, another big injury as the Patriots hobbled their way to 10-0.