- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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He was one of the only players in the locker room at the time, his presence notable because he’s mostly been absent since injuring his groin in the season opener Sept. 8.
When a reporter approached and asked if he was available to speak, Amendola said he was unsure. In his first year with the club, he got the memo quickly -- injured players who aren’t suiting up for games generally stay in the background.
But soon enough, a member of the team’s media-relations staff told Amendola it was OK, and what ensued was a media blitz.
The scene, in and of itself, reflected that Amendola is closing on a return to the field. If not Sunday night against the Atlanta Falcons, the Oct. 6 game at Cincinnati now seems like a realistic target.
As Amendola said himself, “I anticipate being 100 percent shortly.”
This was the most significant Patriots news-related development of the day, and here are a few follow-up thoughts:
More clarity by Saturday night: For those on the fantasy-football circuit, there should be a clearer picture of Amendola’s potential availability by Saturday night. Because the Patriots are playing on the road, this means the team will downgrade to "out" status injured players who remain home Saturday while the team travels to Atlanta. This is what happened with tight end Rob Gronkowski and others in the Sept. 8 season opener.
Revisiting decision to play through injury in opener: Amendola said he didn’t regret playing through injury in the second half of the opener, in which he was a key contributor. He acknowledged that adrenaline was part of it. He also said there was no way to know if playing through the injury made it worse. If the adductor becomes an issue that nags Amendola over time, the process through which Amendola was cleared to return in the opener could come under scrutiny.
While closer to 100 percent, still could be situation to manage: While Amendola expressed optimism about a return to the field “shortly,” he stopped short when asked if he could say with certainty that he won’t have to manage the injured area in the future. “I’m not really sure on that one,” he said. NFL Network previously reported that Amendola’s adductor tore away from his bone.