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Patriots WR Danny Amendola is slowly getting more involved in the offense

Amendola might have been phased out of the offense, but he rises to the biggest occasions.

New England Patriots WR Danny Amendola restructured his contract this past offseason so he could remain with the team. He has been paid far more than his production merits and the general belief is that he will be released after this season due to his price tag in 2017.

Amendola is in his fourth season with the Patriots and he is roughly on pace to match his four-year production with the Rams. Amendola has yet to register more than 700 receiving yards in a single season and he’s very unlikely to reach that mark this year because he’s been playing an extremely reserved role for the Patriots.

New England added WR Chris Hogan over the offseason and Hogan immediately slotted in ahead of Amendola on the depth chart. What might be more surprising is how rookie WR Malcolm Mitchell played ahead of Amendola to start the season.

“I think Danny [Amendola] has always done a great job of embracing whatever role we’ve given him,” Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said this past week. “Danny is an unselfish guy. Danny works extremely hard, prepares hard, he’s a great teammate, and he always makes the most of his opportunities. He takes advantage of those whether it be on special teams or on offense.

“We just always try to do what we think is best for the team in every situation on early downs, third downs, red zone, two-minute, and some of that is making sure we make smart decisions as far as who is out there, who is not out there, and try to do it on a week-to-week basis. He’s always prepared, we’re always going to – we have a role for each one of our guys that goes to the game, and those guys work hard to be ready to go when their turn is up. Danny has done a great job of that so far this year.”

The Patriots envision Amendola as a third down specialist; similar to the fullback in the short yardage rushing game, Amendola is the long distance specialist tasked with converting long yardage situations.

An impressive 10 of Amendola’s 16 receptions have come on third down this year, with eight going for first down. 11 of his receptions have come when the Patriots needed 7 or more yards for a first down. Amendola has just one reception on first down.

But after playing just 24.4% of the snaps over the first five weeks, it would appear like Amendola’s role is increasing. The Patriots have sidelined rookies CB Cyrus Jones (kick returner) and WR Malcolm Mitchell in recent weeks, opening the door for Amendola to perform. He has played in 40.7% of the snaps over the past three games and has been contributing more on special teams, including a 73-yard kick return in week 8 against the Bills.

Amendola will never be the top option in the Patriots offense and will remain behind TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Julian Edelman, WR Chris Hogan, and TE Martellus Bennett- and probably also trail RB James White and RB Dion Lewis. But Amendola has been reliable when called upon and he has risen to every occasion.

And when we see how productive the Bills were against the Seahawks out of the slot:

No one should be surprised if Amendola has his best game of the season against the toughest competition.