Amendola, Lewis take the field for Brady's charity football game

Amendola, Lewis take the field for Brady's charity football game

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Danny Amendola gave fans something they may not have been expecting to see on Friday night.

Playing in the Tom Brady Football Challenge at Harvard Stadium -- the kickoff event of the 17th annual Best Buddies Challenge, which is a charity walk, run and ride to benefit Best Buddies International -- the Patriots wasn't afraid to make a few playsat half speed . He made one leaping grab on a pass floated down the sideline from Brady. At the end of another catch-and-run, Amendola turned around Patriots Hall of Fame linebacker Tedy Bruschi a couple of times before running by him. 

Amendola's presence on the field came as somewhat of a surprise after he was one of 17 players who missed last Thursday's OTA session. He reportedly underwent offseason knee and ankle surgeries, but he clearly he felt confident enough in his legs to run around on a Friday night for charity. 

At one point, Amendola half-heartedly defended Patriots running back Dion Lewis, who is recuperating from an injury of his own. Lewis had surgery to repair the left ACL he tore on Nov. 8 of last season in a win over the Redskins.

Lewis moved methodically, catching one Brady pass, but hardly ever reaching a gear that would be considered jogging. 

"Going well," Lewis said when asked about his rehab Friday. "Just doing whatever I'm allowed to every day. Trying to listen to the trainers and whatever they let me to do, I do it as hard as I can."

Like Amendola, Lewis was also absent from last week's OTA session on Thursday. ESPN's Mike Reiss reported last week that Lewis is "on track" for New England's season-opener against the Cardinals on Sept. 11.

"It's good to be around everybody," Lewis said of being with his teammates at Gillette Stadium. "Just happy to be back. Just working as hard as I can and just taking every day step by step."

Patriots receiver Julian Edelman was present on the sidelines for Brady's Best Buddies game but did not play. Wearing a walking boot on his left foot and ankle, he signed autorgraphs and chatted with those on the sidelines.

When asked about his recovery, he sidestepped the question. 

"We're not here to talk about that," he said. "We're here to talk about Best Buddies."

Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich and running back James White also played in the game. Former Patriots Dan Koppen and Scott Zolak participated as well.

Among the other well-known participants involved were congressman Joe Kennedy III, governor Charlie Baker, chef Guy Fieri, television personality Maria Menounos and actor Michael Chiklis.

Brissett sees room for improvement but feels he's 'moving in the right direction'


Brissett sees room for improvement but feels he's 'moving in the right direction'

HOUSTON -- It wasn't the mechanics of his throwing motion that he was concerned about. For Jacoby Brissett, it was the way in which he was seeing the Texans defense, the length of time it took to get a feel for the game, and how his night ended that bothered him. 

"I felt like I was getting my rhythm," Brissett said after the Patriots lost their exhibition with the Texans on Saturday, 23-20. "But you can't really remember all that stuff when the last play happens like that. It's the last one."


Though the outcome of the game meant nothing, Brissett and his teammates were looking for a game-winning touchdown with less than a minute left when Brissett had the ball knocked from his hands and out of the back of the end zone for a touchback. 

Brissett's night finished up with him going 5-for-10 for 36 yards. He was sacked twice and pressured on seven of his 15 drop-backs. 

The reserves playing for the Texans in the fourth quarter made life difficult for Brissett and his teammates as their first two drives resulted in punts. Brissett was hit twice on those drives, and his first third-down attempt failed when Houston sniffed out a screen. The Patriots had what looked like a third-and-21 conversion on their next sequence, but Devin Lucien bobbled a catch deep over the middle of the field that fell incomplete. 

Brissett seemed to make a couple of relatively difficult throws during his time on the field -- he nearly had a game-winning touchdown pass completed to Cody Hollister on a fade to the back corner of Houston's end zone, but Hollister got just one foot in-bounds -- yet he wished he could have done more to spark the Patriots offense quickly.

"I think I'm throwing the ball good," he said. "I don't think that's the issue. I think it's more so just my eyes and the timing of everything. I don't think it's throwing -- actually throwing. I think it's the mechanics of playing the game."

There was some good to be taken from Brissett's brief outing. After taking over possession with less than two minutes left, he helped the Patriots get deep into Texans territory with completions to Lucien, Sam Cotton and a third-down strike to DJ Foster. He also avoided a near sack, getting out of bounds to stop the clock, and he wisely spiked the football into the turf when he realized Houston had figured out another screen was coming.

Brissett looked back on where the third-team offense was at the start of camp -- with players like receivers Tony Washington and KJ Maye having just been added to the roster -- and pointed out that he felt they were significantly ahead of where they were then.

"I think we've gotten a lot better," Brissett said. "Just this two-minute drive is a good example. Last week we didn't make it past, what, the 40-yard line [against Jacksonville]? This week we're in the red zone with a chance to win the game. I think a lot of our young guys are stepping up and making plays and we're getting a little continuity together."

As for Brissett himself? The 2016 third-round pick has been the subject of some media speculation as to whether or not his spot on the 53-man roster is safe. After seeing some inconsistency in his play during camp practices and last week's game against the Jaguars, there were those who wondered if he was progressing at a rate that would help him survive this year's cutdown date. 

Asked to give a self-evaluation after the Texans game, Brissett said, "I definitely want to do more and play better, but there are good things getting done, good learning experiences. Moving in the right direction . . . 

"I feel like I'm still getting better. I think I'm doing good things. I mean, this league is hard. You just continue to work on things and continue to get better. Yeah, [tonight] the end result is a loss, but there were some good things we did out there. Some things it's good to get on film and learn from. It's a learning experience. That's what this is right now."

Whether the coaching staff sees the improvement Brissett described is unclear. 

"We've all got a long way to go," Belichick said following Saturday's game when asked about Brissett's progress. "I don't think anybody's where we need to be. Any player. Any coach. Any anybody . . . Just grinding it out. It's going to take a while."

Brissett insisted that coaches have been just as tight-lipped behind the scenes when it comes to how they've seen him grow summer. 

"I don't know what they think," Brissett said with a smile. "They don't tell me . . . I'm putting my best foot forward. It's up to them if they think I've been getting better or not."