Brady, Gronkowski help put on a show at Amendola's Celebrity Waiter Night

Brady, Gronkowski help put on a show at Amendola's Celebrity Waiter Night

BOSTON -- Just before Danny Amendola led his teammates into the dining area of Towne Stove and Spirits for his annual Celebrity Waiter Night, he was asked for a scouting report on one of his teammate's capabilities as a server.

"Probably wine everywhere," Amendola said matter-of-factly, referring to tight end Rob Gronkowski. 

At least the meals won't be spiked, though, right?

"I can't promise that," Amendola answered. "But I told him to behave tonight."

Moments later, Amendola and several of his teammates kicked off the event -- Amendola's third Celebrity Waiter Night in Boston -- by signing autographs, taking pictures, and helping to auction off some in-demand items. In all, $210,00 was raised for Amendola's Catches for Kids Foundation, which aims to improve the lives of low-income children and families in need. 

"The most rewarding part is just to see the kids' faces when they get to meet my teammates or come to training camp, or we go to Walmart and get them supplies and things like that," Amendola said. "It's rewarding to meet the kids and to know that we can actually help them. It's fun."

Amendola and Gronkowski were joined by teammates Tom Brady, Julian Edelman (who went without the walking boot he's been seen wearing since undergoing offseason foot surgery), Martellus Bennett, Jimmy Garoppolo, Chris Hogan, Chris Long, Brandon Bolden, Ryan Allen, Chris Harper and Joe Vellano.

Brady took an active role in helping to auction off two signed jerseys for over $4,000 as the winners also received signed footballs thrown to them from across the room by the Patriots quarterback. When one winner dropped his, Brady sent Gronkowski over for an impromptu receiving lesson.

Amendola was at Brady's Best Buddies Football Challenge earlier this month, and he also participates in Long's Waterboys Initiative. He explained that it's no surprise to see so many teammates show up for events like his on Monday.

"We do a lot for each other, whether it be on the football field or whether it be in Boston and giving back to each other's foundations," he said. "We love to support all we can. That's ultimately why we play." 

He added: "We're really good friends. We spend so much time together, and we love one another. We're family members. To support them and to give back to their foundations, what they love to do is important just as it is to workout out together and try to play good football. To give back to the community and be a staple in the community has always been our No. 1 goal. That's why we're here."

For more about Amendola's Catches for Kids Foundation, you can visit dannyamendola.org.

New year, different circumstances, same approach for McDaniels

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New year, different circumstances, same approach for McDaniels

FOXBORO -- A year ago, the Patriots had a unique challenge: Fulfill Tom Brady’s desire to take every snap but also get Jimmy Garoppolo ready to run the team in Brady’s four-game absence.

This year, there’s no suspension looming. But Josh McDaniels still is tasked with getting Brady, Garoppolo and, yes, Jacoby Brissett ready for prime time.

“It’s the same every year for us,” said McDaniels a day before the first training camp practice. “We really didn’t change what we were doing in training camp last year.”

To quibble with the Pats successful offensive coordinator, there did appear to be a change, particularly with Brady’s usage during the preseason games. Perhaps the confluence of events in Brady’s personal life (mother’s illness) and that scissor mishap were driving forces, but bottom line is the program had to be altered. Still, the overall theme didn’t, and won’t again according to McDaniels.

“Everybody is going to get plenty of reps,” he said. “Fundamentals, techniques, all of the things that are basic to our success as we go through the course of the season, this is our opportunity to anchor those in our players so they’ll all three get plenty of reps . . . we’ll just let it play out.”

During OTAs and mini camp, Garoppolo spoke of competing to be the starter. Wishful thinking perhaps from the fourth-year pro, what with the GOAT firmly entrenched ahead of him on the depth chart, but it’s precisely that kind of attitude that is beneficial not only to the player but the entire roster.

“If you’re here, you’re responsible to try to push the people ahead of you so you can get out on the field and help us win,” said McDaneils. “I don’t think there’s a lot of deferring in any room, and that’s the great thing. That means we have a lot of competition and that’s the thing that makes everybody better. “

That competition started in the spring and will continue going forward to McDaniel’s satisfaction, or else. 

“They’ll be things I get mad at and will yell about,” he smiled.

Looking forward to it.

Quick Slants the Podcast: Behind the scenes stories on Belichick and the Patriots with Jerod Mayo

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Quick Slants the Podcast: Behind the scenes stories on Belichick and the Patriots with Jerod Mayo

Former Patriots defensive captain Jerod Mayo joins Tom E. Curran and Phill Perry to give a peak behind the curtain of the Patriots operation run by Bill Belichick.

Mayo talks about becoming a captain, how New England differs from other NFL franchises, what impact Belichick had on not only his career , but life, and how good the defense can be this season.