FOXBOROUGH — There still is not a date for his return, but a league source said Monday that Patriots receiver Danny Amendola is “progressing very well” as he recovers from torn groin muscles.
Amendola initially suffered the injury in the preseason and missed New England’s third and fourth exhibition games. But he was in uniform for the season opener against the Bills, and had three first-half receptions before leaving the game in the second quarter after aggravating the problem.
He did return in the third quarter, and was a big part of the Patriots’ win, finishing the day with 10 catches for 104 yards. Four of those receptions came on the game-winning field goal drive, with three of them picking up first downs.
But Amendola has not played in the two games since then. He did practice last week on a limited basis, though from what the media saw during the small access window, he was not moving well, particularly early on in the week.
He showed some improvement Thursday and Friday, his movement not as labored.
The timeline for Amendola has varied; at one time, it was believed he may need surgery to repair a tear in the oblique muscle, and that would have had him out at least a month. But that has been ruled out, and now Amendola is rehabbing the strained adductor muscles, which is the anatomical term for the groin.
Cannon was firing
Third-year lineman Marcus Cannon has become the offensive line’s multipurpose player, lining up at every spot but center during the offseason, training camp, and now into the regular season.
On Sunday, when Sebastian Vollmer had to sit out much of the second half with what the Patriots called a foot injury, it was Cannon who stepped in for him.
At other times this season, he has gotten snaps at left tackle, when the Patriots have moved Nate Solder around as a sixth lineman/tight end, and also at right guard when Dan Connolly missed some game time to injury.
“He’s got good versatility; smart guy,” coach Bill Belichick said. “He came through for us [Sunday]. I thought overall our line blocked well and we were able to run the ball competitively against a good run defense. All those guys did a good job; he did a good job, too.”
Running backs Brandon Bolden, Stevan Ridley, and LeGarrette Blount totaled 151 yards on 28 carries against the Buccaneers, an average of 5.4 yards. Tampa Bay had allowed an average of 82.5 yards rushing in its first two games, against the Jets and Saints.
Cannon, a fifth-round pick out of Texas Christian in 2011, looked to be challenging Connolly for the starting spot at right guard heading into camp. But Connolly was brought back slowly after offseason shoulder surgery, and Cannon also suffered an injury in camp.
Connolly has started each of the first three games at right guard.
As for Rob Gronkowski, Belichick was not giving any indication as to whether the tight end had any chance of playing against Tampa Bay. The Patriots’ final injury report last week had Gronkowski listed as questionable, a step up from the doubtful he had been listed at for the Bills and Jets games.
Asked if Gronkowski was close to being able to play, Belichick said, “I don’t know. He was inactive.”
He repeated the phrase “he was inactive” six times over the next seven questions when asked to clarify the possible availability of Gronkowski and Amendola.