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New England Patriots 2013 Breakout Candidate: Danny Amendola

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David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a rough offseason for the New England Patriots. With the Aaron Hernandez situation, the loss of Wes Welker in free agency to the Denver Broncos and the injury concerns surrounding Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots are heading into 2013 with more question marks than any year in recent memory.

If Gronkowski doesn’t make it back for Week 1, the Patriots will start the season without their top five receivers from last year.

But the one bright spot for the New England offense this offseason was the addition of slot receiver Danny Amendola from the St. Louis Rams. Signed just days after Welker left for Denver, Amendola will be forever linked to the similar receiver that led the Patriots in receptions for the last five years.

And those similarities are the reason for the great expectations for Amendola heading into his first year in Foxboro. Much like Welker, he does his best work lining up in the slot and finding holes in the defense. When he’s been healthy, he’s been a productive player ever since coming into the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2008.

But it’s been his inability to stay healthy for any long stretch of time that makes him an enigma this year. He has the skills to be a top flight receiver, especially with all world quarterback Tom Brady throwing him the ball, but if he can’t stay on the field like he couldn’t the last two years it won’t matter.

Amendola played only 12 games combined in the last two years. When he was healthy he did well, catching 63 balls in only 11 games last year.

In the end, it will all come down to whether or not he can stay out of the trainers room consistently in 2013. If he does he’ll be Tom Brady’s number one target, especially with all the receivers gone from last year’s team.

All the stars are aligned for Amendola to have a breakout season in 2013, all he has to do is stay on the field to make it happen.

Ben Sullivan is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bensullivan52, “Like” him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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