Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/8/14
Five years ago, Danny Amendola was in a much different place in the landscape of the NFL. He was an undrafted free agent out of Texas Tech, fresh off a 109-catch, 1,245-yard season with the Red Raiders. But lack of size (5-foot-10, 183 pounds) and speed (4.68-second 40 yard dash at the combine) kept him from being taken among the 252 picks in the 2008 NFL draft. Amendola was swooped up by the Cowboys as a free agent and came about as close as one can to making the 53-man roster without it actually happening. How do we know this? He was heavily featured on the Cowboys season of Hard Knocks that year. The Dallas organization knew what they had in the slot receiver. And so did Amendola’s teammate at the time, Terrell Owens, who made it well known that he wanted the shifty slot man on the roster. Some mental errors and a stacked wide receiver corps kept Amendola from making the squad, but he spent the entire season on the team’s practice squad. He went through the process again with the Eagles in 2009 and came up short (no pun intended pun completely intended) again, getting released as part of the team’s final cuts. Amendola’s big break finally came later that year when he was signed off the Eagles’ practice squad by the Rams. He went on to catch 43 passes that year for 326 yards and one touchdown. He improved in 2010 before missing all but one game in 2011. Despite only playing 11 games, 2012 was his true breakout year. Games like his performance in Week 2 against the Redskins, when he caught 15 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown, and Week 10 against the 49ers, when he caught 11 passes for 102 yards, were what earned him a five-year, $28.5 million contract from the Patriots this offseason. Amendola finally became a free agent at the perfect time to earn the new contract. And not to make this an overly cliche column about how hard work pays off for scrappy little players, the slot receiver’s journey shows how many different routes an NFL career can take, especially in light of the Aaron Hernandez situation. Hernandez was only mildly punished for his off-field antics at Florida by being drafted in the fourth round rather than the first or second, where his skill set said he should have been selected. It took just two years in the league for Hernandez to get a big contract, seven years, $40 million to be exact. But Hernandez squandered his opportunity like so many athletes have done before him, while Amendola eventually made the most of his. A Cowboys Hard Knocks marathon this weekend is what reminded me of Amendola’s football journey. Knowing that the same player who fumbled a punt in his first NFL preseason game is now the key to the Patriots’ offense in 2013 was fun to watch. You can’t help but think, “Keep at it kid, it will all work out,” as Amendola tried to explain what happened to his special teams coach after the play. But seeing Amendola speak nervously in a slightly squeaky voice to HBO cameras just shows how far he’s come in five years. Just three weeks ago, Amendola spoke confidently to the swarm of New England media surrounding him on the day after the Tebow circus came to town. It’s certainly not the first time an undrafted free agent has gone on to earn big money as a slot receiver (as anyone will tell you, Amendola’s journey is shockingly similar to Wes Welker‘s), but watching him with Tom Brady this season will be a nice story to take the mind of Hernandez’s saga. And if you want to see a fresh-faced Amendola trying to make his way in the NFL as an undrafted rookie, you can always watch the clip below from 2008. Have a question for Doug Kyed? Send it to him via Twitter at @DougKyedNESN or send it here. Photo via Facebook/New England Patriots from B/R
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

FA Cup Final: Arsenal earns record 12th title in 4-0 win over Aston Villa

James Harden wants some help in the backcourt

Lightning reach Stanley Cup Final with Game 7 win

Devon Still: Daughter has complications with transplant

Rivers denies report of problems with CP3 and Jordan

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Orlando Magic hope Skiles can right sinking ship

Falcons waive Shembo over animal cruelty charges

Report: Tom Brady’s suspension appeal hearing set for June 23

Peterson is wrong (sorta): NFL players have great power

Scout: A-Rod 'looks like he doesn't give a (expletive)'

Belichick mum on Deflategate in first remarks since discipline

Who were those guys? A look back at the 1974-75 Warriors

Washington Redskins' DeSean Jackson up to old antics?

Klay Thompson's injury hurts Warriors' chances at NBA Title

Four former first-round picks playing for their NFL careers

NBA Finals: Cavs-Warriors lacks easy comparison and that's great

10 NFL storylines that headlined the past week

Blackhawks-Ducks Game 7 preview: Key players, prediction

Women’s World Cup power rankings: Which teams have the best shot at hoisting the trophy?

NBA Finals: A series 39 years in the making

WATCH: San Diego State player steals home to seal win

St. Thomas pitcher Ben Ancheff takes internet by storm

WATCH: Josh Hamilton hits first two homers of the season

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Lightning reach Stanley Cup Final with Game 7 win

Devon Still's daughter has complications with transplant

$70M Reebok deal is bad for UFC fighters

If the Warriors win the title, the parade will be for Oakland

Peterson is wrong (sorta): NFL players have great power

Dwight Howard suspended for first game of 2015-16 season

Four QBs set to take step back in 2015

Spelling Bee co-champ wears LeBron jersey under shirt

Top 10 stories from 2015 NBA Playoffs

Rangers-Lightning Game 7 preview

The can't-miss Prince Fielder

Chip Kelly: Tebow is a quarterback

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.