FOXBOROUGH — Although this is the first week Tom Brady and Danny Amendola have been on the field together during official workouts, the quarterback and one of his newest receivers began getting acquainted in early April.
Then, it was at the University of Southern California. Brady spends much of his offseason in the Los Angeles area, and often has receivers in for workouts.
On Tuesday, it was on the grass behind Gillette Stadium, the second of 10 organized team activities New England has scheduled in the coming weeks, and the first media were able to observe.
During a full-team session that lasted just over 90 minutes, Brady and Amendola had plenty of reps together, including during special-teams periods, when the two, along with another free agent signee, Michael Jenkins, worked on the other field, with the receivers running routes and getting feedback from Brady.
Though Amendola has had his playbook for weeks, “it’s a little more intricate out here” on the grass, putting into practice things he and Brady and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels have talked about in the classroom.
“I’m learning every day,” Amendola said.
Signed to a five-year contract to, in essence to replace Wes Welker, Amendola said comparisons with Welker — both are slot receivers who went undrafted out of Texas Tech — are not something he has to worry about.
But that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to be made. While Welker was not a slot star when he arrived in New England in 2007, the expectation is that Amendola will be able to fill Welker’s shoes.
Ray Sherman, his former receivers coach in St. Louis and Dallas, where Amendola was signed as a rookie free agent in 2009, believes the 27-year-old will be just fine.
“I’ll say this about Danny, in my time being with him, he’s very intelligent, very bright, a great worker, has a great attitude, comes to practice every single day [and] works hard in practice every single day,” Sherman said.
“He’s special, he really is. He’s a special guy.”
Sherman acknowledged there would be a feeling-out period for Amendola and Brady, but it may not take as long as some would think.
“He can do things on the field that will make you say, ‘Wow.’ Just him and Tom working together, trying to get a feel for things, each other’s movements, how [Danny] comes out of the break, that will take a little while, but they’ll be on the same page quickly,’’ said Sherman.
He added that he will always have a soft spot for Amendola “because he came from nowhere and worked his butt off.”
When Sherman said Amendola goes hard on every rep during every practice, it’s hard not to think of Welker — Brady described his former teammate the same way.
McDaniels was the offensive coordinator in St. Louis in 2011, so Amendola has a sense of what his offense looks like and McDaniels’s expectations. That will likely help his transition to the Patriots, but it won’t be immediate.
“It’s the verbiage. I mean, that’s everything. That’s the most important thing, the vocabulary of the offense,” Amendola said. “I’m learning day in and day out, studying at night and everything else. It’s a process. [Tuesday was the] second day, so I’m looking forward to the next practice and getting ready for that.”
Amendola is not alone in trying to adjust to things. New England retooled nearly the entire receiving corps, with Jenkins and Donald Jones coming in as free agents and Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce arriving as draft picks.
Only Julian Edelman and Matthew Slater remain from last season. Edelman missed nearly half the season to injury, and Slater is a receiver in name only — he has one career reception.
“There’s a couple guys here that have been here for a while, and we’re really leaning on them to show us the ropes of the drills and the practice and trying to get the tempo going in the practice,” Amendola said. “We have a really good group I feel like — some guys coming from other teams with a lot of experience and it’s exciting to see what we’re going to be able to do.
“You ask questions in meetings and you thrive off each other. It’s definitely a group atmosphere, a group effort, and that’s the way it goes.”