Patriots: Who Steps Up in Danny Amendola Absence?


Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola will not play against the Denver Broncos on Sunday night. How will they replace his production?

The Patriots are already missing running back Dion Lewis and wide receiver Julian Edelman. Now, for this week’s match-up against the Denver Broncos, they will be without WR Danny Amendola, who will sit out with a sprained knee.

Amendola’s injury is not serious, and he is not expected to miss much time, but the Patriots will undoubtedly miss his presence on the field.

Without Amendola, Edelman and Lewis, the Patriots are missing their top three options in the short passing game. Tom Brady excels in the short passing game like nobody else, and his lack of options out of the slot and out of the backfield will undoubtedly be felt.

This is an extreme case, but the Patriots typically do not miss a beat, with the next man up simply stepping in and filling the production for the injured player. Rarely have they dealt with these kind of injuries across the board, but the Patriots have no choice but to step up and make the best out of the situation.

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Without Edelman, Amendola and Aaron Dobson (who they place on IR earlier this week), the already shallow receiving corps in New England is down to the bare bones. They are likely to only to be three true receivers on the active roster tonight against the Broncos in Brandon LaFell, Chris Harper and hopefully a returning Keshawn Martin.

LaFell is far and away the best and most established of the group, Harper was called up from the practice squad only a week ago and Martin has missed the Patriots’ last five games with a hamstring injury. Martin has made the trip to Denver with the team, but is still listed as questionable. He is however, expected to play.

Matthew Slater could also step in and play a little bit of receiver if needed, but his value to the team has always been as a special teams ace. Slater is officially listed as a WR, but has very little experience actually playing the position.

The short passing game is not going to be the elite weapon for Brady and the offense that they are used to. Sure, they will likely still be able to make a mark underneath, but with no Amendola to count on, their short passing game is simply not going to be up to its usual par.

The easiest way for the Patriots to help combat their losses is with a strong running game. LeGarrette Blount did not look great against the Buffalo Bills last week, but he is a physical runner who can make a difference with a strong inside rushing attack.

Brady and the Patriots have historically used the short passing game as a defacto running game. Now, it is time for Blount and the rushing attack to help pick up the slack.

While he is undoubtedly going to receive a massive amount of attention from the Broncos’ defense, the Patriots need to find a way to get tight end Rob Gronkowski more involved in the offense.

Without Edelman and Amendola, he is the best receiver on this roster by a huge margin. The Broncos know this and will try to take him away, but the Patriots simply must find a way to get him the ball.

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LaFell and Harper will likely be the primary receivers for Brady on the outside, and they are both able of making plays downfield. Perhaps a more aggressive passing attack will be in the cards for New England on Sunday night?

I think the Patriots will look to run the ball and attack deep down field more than usual, but the short passing game is still going to be a major part of their game plan. Running back James White and Martin (if he is able to return from injury) are the two who stand out as the primary targets on underneath routes.

White is a strong receiving back who really started to make his mark last week against the Bills. He has a natural ability to get open out of the back field, and is now an even more important weapon for Brady. White has to be that security blanket for Brady or they are going to be in trouble.

Nov 23, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots running back James White (28) and wide receiver Danny Amendola (80) celebrate a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Martin is the most likely player to step up and actual replace Amendola as the primary slot receiver. He does not have the natural speed and quickness of Amendola and Martin, but it is not like he is slow. He can undoubtedly get loose against defensive backs.

Martin is a veteran receiver with a well-rounded skill-set and a strong ability to find open spaces in the defense. While he is in no way the caliber of player of Edelman or Amendola, Martin is a solid player who can step up and make a difference.

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Between the running game, Gronkowski, the deep passing game and White and Martin making plays underneath, the Patriots should be able to still put together a successful offensive attack against the Broncos. It is far from their usual elite attack, but it should be enough for them to get by.