Amendola's return to practice 'sparked' Rams on Wednesday in London


Amendola's return to practice 'sparked' Rams on Wednesday in London

FOXBORO -- Danny Amendola returned to practice in a "limited" capacity on Wednesday in London.

The St. Louis Rams wide receiver has missed the last two games with a separated shoulder, suffered in the Rams' 17-3 win over the Arizona Cardinals in Week 5.

That was the last win that St. Louis has seen, since Amendola went down. The Rams have lost to the Dolphins in Miami and to Green Bay at home the last two weeks.

So, as expected, Amendola's presence -- while limited on Wednesday -- was well received by the team.

"It was really good to see him, obviously," said Rams quarterback Sam Bradford in a conference call after Wednesday's practice in London. "Me and him are pretty close. We talked about it last week. He told me that he was going to be out there with us today doing some stuff. I was a little surprised, just from the initial reports, I thought it was going to be quite a bit longer for him to get back on the field. But anytime you get him back out there, I think it just brought a whole spark to the whole group today and just lifted everyones spirits a little bit seeing him back out there. Even though he didnt do a whole lot, just having him on the field really energized our group."

While missing two full weeks, Amendola still leads the Rams in receiving, with 32 receptions for 395 yards and two touchdowns.

In his absence, the Rams have needed receivers Brandon Gibson and Chris Givens to step up their game.

"Chris doesnt have a lot of catches, but I believe Chris in four consecutive weeks has a reception over 50 yards, which last week, as his third, hadnt been done by a rookie since former Bears and Raiders receiver Willie Gault," said Rams coach Jeff Fisher in a conference call on Wednesday. "So, hes making a big play here and there. Wed like to try to get him more involved, like to try to get more balls to him, but hes coming on.

"Gibby is doing well too. Gibby is making plays, as are the rest of the guys around him. We have a young group. We have an ascending player in Brian Quick who I think is going to be a very, very solid player for us. Austin Pettis can make plays. When we lost Danny Amendola two weeks ago, other guys had to step up and were getting some production."

Bradford said, on Wednesday, that Amendola's return to the team this season will be crucial.

"Obviously, Ive said it before, a lot of our offense runs through Danny when hes healthy," said Bradford. "You look at the Washington game when he caught 15 balls and everything really started with him. Theres no doubt that we miss him, but I think in the past couple weeks, the guys that have had to step up and make plays because he's not there. I think theyve done a great job and I look for them to do the same this week. Everyone has really elevated their game since he went down."

Five quick impressions: Patriots 27, Steelers 16

Five quick impressions: Patriots 27, Steelers 16

The Patriots went into Pittsburgh and beat an under-manned Steelers team Sunday afternoon, 27-16. Here are some of our quick takeaways.

PATRIOTS 27, STEELERS 16: Curran's Best and Worst | Troy Brown: Pittsburgh didn't capitalize on Pats' mistakes

-- With all eyes on the matchup between Antonio Brown and Malcolm Butler, the third-year Patriots corner held his own. After allowing nine catches for 133 yards to Brown in their first meeting last season, Butler allowed Brown to catch five passes for 90 yards Sunday. Butler also took advantage of some of the chances taken by Landry Jones, intercepting one pass intended for Brown in the end zone in the first quarter. Butler finished the day with two pass breakups and a pick on 10 targets. The four catches he allowed to Brown were the only catches he allowed in the game. 

-- Julian Edelman looked like Julian Edelman in the win. He caught 9 of the 10 targets sent his way for 60 yards, getting open underneath while seeing one-on-one coverage for much of the contest. Edelman has been on the injury report for the last two weeks, limited with a foot injury, but he was able to get open on the intermediate routes that has made him one of Tom Brady's favorite targets over the last few years. Edelman did have one drop on third down, and he did fumble a punt return, which allows us to . . . 

-- . . . take a look at what was a rough day for Patriots special teams units. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed yet another extra point -- his second in as many weeks. He has now missed five kicks on the season, including three field goals. The Patriots kickoff unit also had a difficult day, allowing three kicks to be returned past the 25-yard line. The punt-coverage team made one costly error at the end of the first half when Brandon Bolden kicked a bouncing ball out of the back of the Steelers end zone. Instead of the Pittsburgh drive starting at the 6-yard line, where Bolden touched the football, it came out to the 20. At the end of the half, the Steelers kicked a 32-yard field goal. Bolden also dropped a third-down pass that would have gone for a first down. On another punt, it appeared as though Bolden got up slowly after trying to down the ball near the goal line. It was his first game back after suffering a knee injury in Week 4.

-- LeGarrette Blount had a big day against his former team. The 250-pound back didn't want to be a story line earlier in the week, denying interview requests, saying that he would speak after the game on Sunday. His performance at Heinz Field will certainly keep those requests coming. He ran 24 times for 127 yards and two touchdowns, beating up on the Steelers front-seven late in the game as New England protected its lead. 

-- While the Patriots offensive line provided Blount with enough room to run, it was a relatively sloppy day for Brady's protection up front. Left tackle Nate Solder turned in one drive during which he allowed a pressure and was then flagged for back-to-back holding penalties (one of which was declined). Shaq Mason also appeared to have trouble with Pittsburgh's Jarvis Jones, allowing a couple of pressures and picking up a flag for holding. Joe Thuney and David Andrews -- both of whom had good blocks on James White's score -- also picked up penalties. There will be plenty for offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia to pick at and try to improve in the coming week of practice.