Breaking Down How Danny Amendola Gives Opposing Teams Fits

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Breaking Down How Danny Amendola Gives Opposing Teams Fits
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The St. Louis Rams played the undefeated Arizona Cardinals at the Edward Jones Dome on Thursday Night Football, and they were able to exit the game with a 17-3 victory. 

The win not only makes them 2-0 against NFC West opponents, but it also gives the Rams their first winning record (3-2) since November 2006. 

While that certainly sounds encouraging, the Rams unfortunately lost Amendola to a shoulder injury during the game, and the latest update suggests he'll be out anywhere from four to eight weeks (according to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch via Twitter). 

The loss of Amendola could be detrimental to the offense, especially since he had the second-most receptions in the NFL (32) and was top five in receiving yards (395) at the time of his injury.

There's no doubt that Amendola is a key component to an offense that has already struggled to produce, so it's scary to picture how mediocre the offense will be without him in the lineup. 

Not to mention, Amendola missed practically the entire 2011 season with an elbow injury, and the offense did not look pretty in his absence.

And from a personal standpoint, it has to be frustrating for him, so it comes as no surprise that he was outraged in the locker room after exiting Thursday night's game. 

 

Why Amendola Is Valuable 

We know that Amendola is a huge part of the Rams offense and is a major loss for the team, but why? 

How can such a little guy have such an irreplaceable impact on the offense? 

For starters, he is a smart football player and an amazing route-runner, while he also has unbelievable agility that he uses out of the slot. 

Amendola is rarely used for the deep ball, but when he lines up on the inside and faces sluggish linebackers, he's nearly impossible to cover on short routes.

His ability to make quick cuts in tight space makes him a first-down machine, which is why he is Sam Bradford's favorite target.

But he's not strictly the short-yardage receiver we saw in 2010. In five games this season, he has receptions of 30, 44 and 56 yards.  

And he's certainly not limited to only producing against slow linebackers. As we saw during his 44-yard catch against Arizona, he was able to beat a top-notch corner in Patrick Peterson on the outside using nothing more than beautiful route running and unwavering concentration.

But Amendola doesn't just give team's headaches on offense, as he's also a force on special teams.

As the team's punt returner this season, he has been limited, but he has proven to be a valuable returner in the past, as he finished with 452 punt return yards in 2010 and averaged 11.3 yards per return. 

This season, he has just 87 yards on nine returns (9.7 yards per return average), so the production has leveled off a bit, although he hasn't had many clean opportunities for a good return. 

Amendola also has 2,760 kickoff return yards between 2009 and 2010, but those duties have been fulfilled by rookies Chris Givens and Isaiah Pead this season. 

Also, Amendola's special teams value doesn't end with the return game. In Week 4 against Seattle, he caught his second touchdown of the season after he hid himself on the field, posing as a member of the field-goal team. 

Overall, Amendola is a multipurpose football player. 

He's the team's top receiver, their short-yardage receiver, the quarterback's favorite target, the punter's favorite target, as well as the return man. 

That's a lot of responsibility for one player, and it will certainly take two or three players to perform Amendola's job in his absence. There's no single player on the team capable of doing all of Amendola's work on his own.

In the meantime, the Rams need to hope that the replacements can play at an acceptable level. The offense has already looked questionable this season, so they're in need of a little luck at this point.

But if they hang in there, Amendola should be back in time for the Wild Card push, which is beginning to look more and more like a realistic possibility.   

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