FOXBORO -- With Sebastian Vollmer inactive for Thursday night's game against the Jets, Marcus Cannon made the start at right tackle for the Patriots.
And Bill Belichick was pleased with what he saw.
"Marcus did a real good job filling in there at right tackle," said the Patriots' coach in a conference call on Friday. "I thought he did a good job in the passing game. He also had some strong run blocks. We all know he's a very athletic and powerful man. And he played to that a number of times, which I thought he did for us in preseason and then in training camp as well. He showed a very good presence on the field at that spot."
Belichick went on to praise the entire offensive line this season, for being a reliable group, even with all the moving parts.
"I think it's a real credit to the way that group works together, the way they practice together, and certainly the way that Dante Scarnecchia has molded them as a group and as a very respective offensive line unit," said Belichick. "That's even at practice when we move those people in and out of the lineup. Different guys play center. Different guys play the guard positions. We roll the tackles through, and so forth.
"It's a very comforting feeling to know that whichever guys have to go in there and play, they've all played with each other, the communication is good, and they can physically and functionally do the job that they're asked to do, and do it at a high competitive level.
"It's been a strength for us through the years, and it continues to be this year so far."
Tom Brady has never been one to hide his emotions when he's on the field, and it sounds like he's not much different at the ping pong table.
When asked about Brady during an interview on ESPN's NFL Insiders show, Patriots receiver Danny Amendola recalled one story from his first few days at Gillette Stadium back in 2013.
"He's the best teammate," Amendola said. "He's so competitive . . . I remember one story, it was my first week in the building and he wanted to play some ping pong. I didn't know how to go about it. I knew I was better than him, [but] I didn't want to beat him too bad because I wanted him to throw me the ball.
"I knew I was better. Needless to say, his competitive nature unleashed a broken paddle by the end of it. It's the reason we love him, and the reason why he's the best quarterback."
That first encounter at the ping pong table didn't seem to hinder Amendola's relationship with Brady in the least. In their first game together, Amendola fought a groin injury and still ended up with 10 catches for 104 yards in a win over the Bills. Since then, when healthy -- and particularly since New England's most recent run to a Super Bowl title -- Amendola has established himself as one of Brady's most trusted targets.
Amendola and the rest of the Patriots are facing a start to the regular season without their No. 1 quarterback as Brady awaits a decision from the Second Circuit on whether or not it will rehear his case against the NFL. Should backup Jimmy Garoppolo take the reins in Brady's place, however, Amendola said he'll be confident.
"He's a great player," Amendola explained. "He's been in the system a couple of years now and he's learned a lot. He's picked up everything that Tom has taught him and then also what coach [Bill] Belichick has to offer him. So we're all excited to see where he goes and see what the future holds for him."
Danny Amendola did not participate in OTA or minicamp practices that were open to reporters, but that doesn't mean he's ailing.
"I feel really good," Amendola said while paying ESPN's NFL Insiders show a visit. "I had a couple minor procedures done after the season. Everybody knows how long the season can be. I wanted to go into next season feeling as fresh and ready as I can."
Amendola joined a relatively long list of Patriots regulars -- including LeGarrette Blount, Julian Edelman, Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon -- who were not spotted during spring workouts. There exists, however, some optimism that he'll be ready to participate in training camp.
Though Amendola has battled nagging injuries in three seasons with the Patriots, he's often played through them rather than miss time. The 30-year-old wideout has played in all but six regular-season games since 2013.
Amendola is coming off of his best year in a Patriots uniform, finishing 2015 with 65 catches for 648 yards and three scores. He now helps make up a receiving corps that will include Edelman, newly-acquired wideouts Chris Hogan and Nate Washington, Aaron Dobson, DeAndre Carter, Chris Harper and rookies Malcolm Mitchell and Devin Lucien.
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