Danny Amendola lone standout of Patriots' receivers?


The Patriots ran more plays from scrimmage than any other NFL offense last season, with only the Detroit Lions, New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys throwing the ball more than New England.

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The Patriots heavily relied on a combination of three-receiver and two-tight end sets (making up 90 percent of their snaps in 2012, per FootballOutsiders.com), but the loss of Aaron Hernandez and a slew of veteran pass-catchers has Tom Brady working with mostly newbies in training camp.

Ben Volin of The Boston Globe wrote Tuesday that veteran Danny Amendola has been "the one bright spot in the receiver room so far." NFL.com's Albert Breer reported that Brady worked with 17 different skill guys and seven different combinations in practice Saturday.

With former security blanket Wes Welker on the Denver Broncos, Brady is doing his best to get in sync with rookies Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce and the undrafted Kenbrell Thompkins. Thompkins reportedly has been "catching everything thrown his way," and Dobson has shown "flashes of excellence," but it's atypical to see first-year receivers take off.

"I don't want to be a grumpy old guy," Brady (turning 36 on Saturday) told Volin. "I understand there's a learning curve and there's a patience. I think you try to let them know though, that there's an urgency about it, so it's not like you can afford mistakes."

It's popular to question if the Patriots have hit a wall, but that ignores how Bill Belichick operates. Last year's Patriots ran a different offense on a weekly basis out of the gate until settling on their approach down the stretch. With a flexible, brainy passer like Brady, that's possible. If his young wide receivers can keep up, we aren't counting out the Patriots from anything.

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