Amendola back at practice: 'This is the best I've felt in a long time'

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Amendola back at practice: 'This is the best I've felt in a long time'

FOXBORO -- Danny Amendola hasn't done much in Patriots practices since Day 1. More than a week and seven practices later, the 31-year-old wideout was back on the field looking like a full participant.

Though he's taken part in receiver drills and punt-return work previously, Saturday was his first time since catching eight passes for 78 yards and a score in Super Bowl LI that he's donned full pads and worked against defensive backs.

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Amendola indicated that the time he's spent away from the field recently hasn't been due to any lingering injury issue. Instead, it's been about managing his health so that he's ready at the right time.

"Sometimes the coaches do a good job of holding me back," he said following Saturday's rainy-day session. "If I was to get out there too soon or if I wasn’t ready or had something that was bothering me a little bit, I would play through it and sometimes it would make things worse. I feel like pace is a huge part of being successful through preseason and on into the season. I like to go full speed all the time. Right now, I’m kind of easing into and getting ready."

For a guy who's looked like he's shot out of a cannon during Tom Brady's Best Buddies flag football game in years past, having his workload dialed back to save him from himself probably isn't a terrible idea. When healthy, he's one of Brady's most trusted receivers, as evidenced by his 13 grabs for 126 yards, two scores and a two-point conversion in New England's last two Super Bowl victories. 

Amendola said on Saturday that even after earning another ring, he hasn't considered retirement.

"I still have more to play," he said. "My body feels really good. I feel the best I’ve felt in a long time. I’m excited to get out there and kind of get some reps, get some more plays into the preseason and go from there . . . 

"I want to play football for some more time. I’m not done yet. Wherever that may be, whatever it is, wherever it is, I want to play football at a high level, and this is where it’s going to be. I love it here. I’m going to try to make this team. I’m going to try to fill my role whatever that may be. Try to expand my role whatever that may be. Try to be here for my teammates and try to win games. That’s why I’m here."

Amendola was set to make $6 million in salary in 2017, though it was relatively clear he was not going to be playing for the Patriots under that contract the way it was structured. In April, news broke that he would re-do his deal with New England for the third time in as many years to save the Patriots $4.75 million in cap space. His $1.25 million base salary for 2017 is fully guaranteed and he could make as much as $1.7 million.

Why the willingness to take a reduced salary again, Amendola was asked?

"I love playing for this city. I love playing for this team," he said Saturday. "I love the atmosphere that coach [Bill Belichick] brings when we walk in the building every day. I want to play good football. I feel like this is the place where I’ll be able to challenge myself and play the best football I can. Ultimately, that’s why I’m here."

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Goodell statement calls Trump's comments 'divisive'

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Goodell statement calls Trump's comments 'divisive'

In separate statements Saturday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Players Association chief DeMaurice Smith each criticized President Donald Trump's verbal attack on NFL players. 

Goodell's statement: 

The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture. There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we’ve experienced over the last month.  Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.

 

And Smith's statement: 

Whether or not Roger or the owners will speak for themselves about their views on player rights and their commitment to player safety remains to be seen. This union, however, will never back down when it comes to protecting the constitutional rights of our players as citizens as well as their safety as men who compete in a game that exposes them to great risks. 

 

NFLPA president Eric Winston, a tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals, also tweeted a statement critical of the President:

At a rally in Alabama on Friday night, Trump said NFL owners should fire players who kneel during the national anthem. And he encouraged NFL fans to walk out of games in protest. 

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ’Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,” Trump told the rally. 

He also lamented that football has become less violent.

“They’re ruining the game,” he complained.

McCourty tweets criticism of Trump's shot at NFL players

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McCourty tweets criticism of Trump's shot at NFL players

Patriots safety Devin McCourty tweeted criticism of President Donald Trump's harsh words toward NFL players who have been kneeling in protest during the national anthem.

McCourty shares a Twitter account with his twin brother Jason of the Cleveland Browns but put his DMac signature on this tweet. Devin McCourty was one of several Pats who didn't go to the White House this past spring to celebrate the team's Super Bowl championship with Trump. 

At a rally in Alabama on Friday night, Trump said NFL owners should fire players who kneel during the national anthem. And he encouraged NFL fans to walk out of games in protest. 

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ’Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,” Trump told the rally to loud applause.

McCourty and then-teammate Martellus Bennett raised clenched fists in protest after the anthem at the Patriots opening game last season and McCourty said he received plenty of criticism for it. 

“I got a lot of [backlash],” McCourty told CSN Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran last year in the days following that protest. "You gotta remember, a lot of these people, they don’t know me. They like the way I play football and they like some of the things I do in the community but they don’t know me. I talked to my brother [then with the Tennessee Titans] because we have the same Twitter and the Titans got a bunch of calls from people saying they don’t respect [the Titans who made symbolic gestures] and they need to be gone. He said their community relations people said, ‘If you just knew them, your opinion would change.’ ”

Several NFL players and other athletes, most prominently former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, have refused to stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner” to protest the treatment of African-Americans by police.