Patriots prep for Moss's return to Gillette

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Patriots prep for Moss's return to Gillette

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO -- "Gone but not forgotten" is a perfect phrase for Randy Moss.

Though traded three weeks ago, you hear about him constantly. In every pregame, Patriots coach Bill Belichick is asked how opponents will adjust to his Moss-less offense. In the postgame, he is asked if his team misses Randy or not.

It makes sense.

During his tenure with the team, "Brady to Moss" became one of the most thrilling possibilities on game day. Quarterback Tom Brady connected with the speedy, athletic wideout almost instantly and Moss went on to set the NFL single-season record for touchdown catches (23) in his first season in New England.

Moss had only 9 catches for 139 yards in four games before being traded this year, but his body of work as a Patriot was impressive: 259 passes for 3,904 yards and 50 touchdowns in three-plus years.

So, yeah, the trade of the seven-time Pro Bowler was dramatic. And, yeah, fans and reporters alike have questions.

Getting them answered in such a notoriously tight-lipped locker room, though? Toss-up.

"No, I haven't talked about Moss,'' running back Danny Woodhead said. "You're going to get pretty standard answers, you know what I mean?''

That everyone has moved on?

"Yeah, that's exactly right,'' Woodhead smiled.

Sunday's matchup with the Minnesota Vikings makes ducking Moss-talk more difficult. This week Randy Moss isn't just New England's formerly disgruntled downfield threat, he's Minnesota's current downfield threat. He will again run his routes at Gillette Stadium, but this time he's the Pats' problem -- a football, not personnel problem -- to handle.

So this time the guys had an opponent to address on Wednesday. Thing is, nobody stuck around. The locker room was emptier than usual.

At least Brady's media time is inescapably scheduled. He admitted the two have exchanged some text messages but if he misses Moss he didn't say.

The conversation was drawn in X's and O's.

"Moss can probably tell the Vikings the plays. He knows the signals and stuff,'' Brady said. "That's why you gotta change 'em. Hopefully he tells them one thing and then you fake it and they're guessing and maybe they guess wrong.''

Cornerback Kyle Arrington took the same businesslike tone.

"We know him well and he knows us well, so it's just going to be who goes out there and performs better technique-wise, game plan-wise . . . who's going to do the better job,'' he said.

"There are a few techniques that we're going to use to our advantage that we know in trying to stop him and I'm sure he's going to tell his guys, Brett Favre and the offensive side of the ball, the same thing about us. It should be an interesting match up."

Interesting for one reason in particular. Bill Belichick brought it up in his press conference.

"Weve worked against Moss and obviously have a good knowledge of him, but he knows a lot moreWe know one guy. He knows all of us, so I dont know if there is a big advantage there."

Good point, Bill. Minnesota certainly sees the value in its acquisition.

"I think it's been positive. He's been a positive voice around here; he's brought excitement,'' defensive end Jared Allen said. "I think he's been a positive influence in the locker room. You can see he wants to win.''

A win for Randy Moss this Sunday means a loss for the Patriots. If that happens those questions about life without 81 will carry a brand new bitterness. And it will make it that much harder to move on.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Is Rob Gronkowski good to go?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Is Rob Gronkowski good to go?

00:43 - Rob Gronkowski says he's ready to go against the Texans. Michael Holley, Tom Giles and Kayce Smith talk about this risks of him playing while injured.

05:47 - Phil A.Perry follows up the Gronk discussion with a deeper breakdown of Gronk’s decision to play this Sunday.

10:02 - David Price appears to be easing back into baseball after pitching Friday night. Evan Drellich joins BST to talk about Price’s outing in Cincinnati. 

16:12 - The BST crew recaps the Red Sox win over Reds. Drellich returns to analyze how the pitchers performed and how that will impact the Red Sox postseason stretch.  

Danny Amendola embraces delayed follow-up to strong Week 1 performance

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Danny Amendola embraces delayed follow-up to strong Week 1 performance

This actually won’t be the first time that Danny Amendola had to wait to follow up a strong season-opener with the Pats. 

As the veteran receiver aims to return Sunday from a concussion and knee injury after leaving the Pats’ Week 1 loss early and missing Week 2 altogether, he’ll try to build a Week 1 performance that saw him lead the Pats with 100 yards on six receptions. 

The stop and start is somewhat reminiscent of Amendola’s first year with New England in 2013, when he had 10 receptions for 104 yards in the season-opener. He suffered a groin injury in that game, however, and didn’t play again until Week 5. At least the wait is shorter this time around. 

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“I mean, there’s going to be bumps and bruises along the way, but that’s football, right?” Amendola said Friday. “But I feel really good today, feel strong, so get ready tomorrow and just continue to prepare.”

In that first game back in 2013, Amendola again led the Pats in receiving yards, but it was in a terrible offensive showing for New England. All it took was four receptions for 55 yards to be the Patriots’ best receiver in a 13-6 loss to Cincinnati in which Tom Brady had a rare scoreless game. 

If Amendola can pick up where he left off in Week 1, the Pats will be in good shape. They’re also expected to have Rob Gronkowski and Chris Hogan ready to go, but Amendola was Tom Brady’s most reliable weapon in the Chiefs game, even though Brandin Cooks made a bigger impact with two pass interference penalties drawn in the red zone. 

Not known for his durability towards the end of his time in St. Louis, this will be the fourth of Amendola’s five regular seasons in New England in which he didn’t play in all 16 games. He played the full season in 2014, 14 games in 2015 and 12 games in 2013 and 2016. 

With Julian Edelman out, Brady could certainly use Amendola’s services as often as possible. That’s especially if he plays the way he did in Week 1. 

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