Tom Brady has a new receiver in Danny Amendola.
Ultimately, Amendola is one dependable replacement for Welker for Brady's offense.
Combined between 2009 and 2010, he caught 128 passes for 1,015 yards and scored four touchdowns. Obviously, these numbers are nowhere near Welker's production under Brady, but the St. Louis Rams weren't the most pass-oriented offense, either.
We must remember that prior to joining New England, Welker had just 1,121 receiving yards on 96 receptions through his first two years with the Miami Dolphins. Not bad production by any means. However, having a quarterback like Brady simply amplified Welker's impact.
The same potential resides with Amendola.
He's capable of siphoning intermediate zones between linebackers and winning against anyone man-to-man. Possessing the quickness for slants, outs, screens and drags, Amendola will force a defense to widen at the second level.
Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald also writes of Amendola's expected impact:
Expect the Pats to deploy Gronkowski, Hernandez and Amendola in similar fashion, moving them across the line of scrimmage to create defensive mismatches. Amendola has that type of experience, and he should have a head start on the verbiage since he played in Josh McDaniels’ system in St. Louis.
This threat simply prevents a defense from bracketing tight ends Rob Gronkowski or Aaron Hernandez in coverage.
With linebackers and nickel/dime backs moving laterally, Brady will continue to spread the field. In short: The Pats remain incredibly efficient on third down and inside the red zone.
One legitimate concern regarding Amendola, though, is durability.
In 2011 he was injured to kick off the season and missed the remainder of the campaign, per the Rams' official Twitter feed.
Amendola then missed time in 2012 because of a broken collarbone, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, and he was in a walking boot, per Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the following November.
No matter what a player's established talent and potential impact is to any team, no one will ever produce when sidelined. On the bright side, New England provides a much more effective offense and proven playmakers to assist Amendola.
So, opponents won't be gearing coverage his way, and he'll be able to get even more yards after the catch.
Plus the Patriots have a stronger running game than given credit for.
They ranked No. 7 in rushing offense last season, while also averaging 4.2 yards per carry. The balance will complement Amendola's presence, and the Pats will remain as AFC title contenders.