GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Sports

August 27, 2013

Crunch Time

Amendola returns

Apparently Danny Amendola's injury, which kept him out of Thursday's meeting with the Giants, was not serious as the wide receiver returned to the practice field on Monday.

According to the team Amendola's status for Week 1 at Buffalo was never in jeopardy. The Patriots newest acquisition has looked good in the preseason already clicking with quarterback Tom Brady.

Soft schedule

The Patriots certainly showed that they have a lot to work on during Thursday's third preseason game at Detroit. Fortunately for Bill Belichick and company, the Pats will have a the first few weeks of the regular season to find an identity, as their schedule is incredibly soft.

New England opens up at Buffalo on September 8, where it will be squaring off against Bills quarterback Jeff Tuel, who will be stepping in due to injuries sustained by Kevin Kolb and EJ Manuel, the Bills first round pick and first quarterback off the board in April's draft.

If Tuel does indeed start, which the Bills said is a very likely scenario on Monday, he will become the first un-drafted rookie to start a season opening game in the Super Bowl era. Tuel played his college ball at Washington St. but wasn't even invited to the rookie combine this past spring. Fortunately he probably will not be the guy to expose the Patriots secondary.

In Week 2 the Patriots will host the Jets, a team that just may be in even more disarray than the Bills. Rookie quarterback Geno Smith has shown this preseason that he is clearly not ready to handle the starting job, and Mark Sanchez injured his shoulder this weekend against the Giants.

The Patriots will not be truly tested until week four at Atlanta, which should give Tom Brady plenty of time to get on the same page as his receivers and the secondary plenty of time to gell.

Probation looming?

UMass Amherst may be questioning its decision to go Division 1 in football and play games at Gillette Stadium (capacity 68,756). The NCAA announced last week that UMass must average 15,000 in attendance at Gillette this year or face a 10-year probation. The Minutemen averaged 10,901 fans last year.

-Compiled by Nick Curcuru and Michael Muldoon

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