FOXBOROUGH — Tom Brady dropped back and threw a pass. Danny Amendola ran to where he expected it to be.
It was a painful connection.
“He darted me in the chest with one ball,” the Patriots receiver said Tuesday. “I was like, ‘wow, this guy can really wing it.’”
Amendola and New England’s eight other new wide receivers better get used to it. They’re among 12 players at that position on the roster for the team’s organized team activities, a three-day session that ends Wednesday.
Gone from last season are Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd and Deion Branch. Welker led the team with 118 catches then signed as a free agent with the Denver Broncos. Lloyd was second with 74 receptions then was released. Branch wasn’t re-signed after catching just 16. That leaves just Julian Edelman as the only wide receiver who caught passes from Brady last year, and that total was only 21.
Moving forward, none of the newcomers will catch very many if they can’t learn New England’s complex offensive system.
At least Amendola has a head start. He played under current Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels when McDaniels held that position in 2011 with the St. Louis Rams. So he said he’s “familiar” with the system, although the one the Patriots use is more “intricate.”
Besides, Amendola was limited to just one game that season because of injury.
Three other veterans signed with the Patriots as free agents. Michael Jenkins spent the past two of his nine NFL seasons with Minnesota. Donald Jones was with Buffalo for his three seasons. Lavelle Hawkins was with Tennessee for all five of his pro seasons.
“You ask questions in meetings. You kind of thrive off each other. It’s definitely a group atmosphere, a group effort,” Amendola said. “We have some guys coming from other teams with a lot of experience and it’s exciting to see what we’re going to be able to do.”