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No Amendola Not the Problem for New England Patriots

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COMMENTARY | Let me be clear right off the bat here: Danny Amendola is a talented player. When the New England Patriots signed him, the thought was that he would be able to put up Wes Welker numbers. And in his first game, he certainly looked the part with a 10 catch, 100 yard performance.

But if he can't stay healthy, what's the point? Amendola has been hampered by injuries throughout his career, and reports indicate that he's likely to miss Thursday's game against the New York Jets.

The offense certainly suffered when Amendola was off the field, but it was not crippled. The trio of running backs still combined for over 150 yards on the day, and Julian Edelman nabbed two touchdowns. Even camp-standout Kenbrell Thompkins had an OK debut, despite some drops and misfires.

Where the Patriots struggled--as expected--was at the tight end position. Zach Sudfeld and Michael Hoomanawanui combined for just one reception for five yards. Sudfeld may have even had negative value for the team after watching a ball bounce from his hands to a defender's.

There is no relief in sight, as Rob Gronkowski still isn't expected to be back against the Jets. And when he does return, what condition will he be in? And how long will he stay healthy?

Sudfeld himself suffered a hamstring injury and was limited on practice Monday. For a team that once boasted the best tight end duo in the NFL, they may be down to a single player, and Hoomanawanui is best used as a blocker.

As the season progresses, some players may become available. The St. Louis Rams' Lance Kendricks, once considered a breakout candidate, appears to have been surpassed on the depth chart by Jared Cook. Kendricks was taken in the second round just two years ago and could play the Aaron Hendandez role in the Patriots' offense. With so many other threats on the Rams, Kendricks could be moved.

If not Kendricks, then someone. Too many players have injury concerns to stand pat. Before long, Tom Brady may have health issues of his own. He was only sacked twice on Sunday, but the longer he's forced to hold onto the ball, finding an open man, the longer he'll be vulnerable. Tight ends aid with blocking too.

And let's not even discuss Tim Tebow. He didn't want to be anything but a quarterback, though had he, there's little chance he would learn the nuances of the position in time to be helpful.

But something has to be done. Brady is losing options left and right. The Buffalo Bills proved that they will not be an easy out this year, while the Jets and Miami Dolphins are sitting at 1-0 in the AFC East. If a remedy for the tight end issue is not found soon, Brady and the Patriots could be looking up at the division for the first time in years.

Andrew Luistro has followed the Red Sox and Patriots for over 20 years. He also writes for the The Hockey Writers and Sunbelt Hockey Journal.

Follow him on Twitter @ndrewL7.

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