Perception doesn’t always meet reality when it comes to Danny Amendola.
The Patriots slot receiver is listed as 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, but it’s highly unlikely that on Thanksgiving night each year, Amendola’s ever in danger of seeing a “2” as the first digit on the family scale.
What most will remember about his first game as a Patriot, Sept. 8 in Orchard Park, N.Y., is how he completely tore a muscle in his groin. Already saddled with the “injury prone” tag, Amendola’s critics were in full “I-told-ya-so” mode when No. 80 came up gimpy in upstate New York. The reality of the situation is that Amendola toughed out the injury and led the Pats with 104 yards of receiving on 10 receptions in a 23-21 New England win.
Then there is this past Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins. Depending on how things shake out, the image of Amendola not being able to hang onto a would-be touchdown in the closing seconds against Miami could be the “look-how-close-they-were” moment people look back on if the Pats can’t come up with a top seed in the AFC. But the reality coming out of that game is that Amendola was Tom Brady’s security blanket throughout the contest and that he finished with 10 catches for 131 yards.
Amendola is obviously not the largest Patriot, but his voice is beginning to carry some Vince Wilfork-like weight as he has quickly become a Bill Belichick-approved mouthpiece for the team. Whenever the inevitable Wes Welker comparisons come into play, Amendola has the cliché buffet ready to go.
“I don’t really think about that stuff, I just try to think about my job,” Amendola said earlier this season about “replacing” Welker. “I love playing with these guys. It’s a great team. I’ve only been here for a short amount of time but I can already tell that these guys are really together. It starts at the top and I’m really excited to be here.”
Praising the guys “at the top” of the organization was never a strong suit for Welker and it’s quite obvious already that the nautical blue and silver authorities in Foxboro trust Amendola in front of a microphone a hell of a lot more than the man he is replacing.
No, Patriots fans aren’t quite there yet with Amendola in terms of trust, though on a team that has had more than its fair share of season-ending injuries, it has to be somewhat comforting that he, of all people, is still standing in December.
Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS