Amendola Answers His Critics

Danny Amendola (Getty/Joe Robbins)

ST. LOUIS — Danny Amendola set a St. Louis Rams single-season franchise record for punt return yards in 2009, his first season with the team, but he has drawn criticism for not being able to take his punt or kickoff returns all the way back for touchdowns.

The Texas Tech product answered those critics on Saturday night when he returned a first-quarter punt 93 yards for a touchdown to give the Rams an early 7-0 lead.

"We had a good return setup and the guys did a good job blocking," Amendola said. "I don't even know how long it was. By the rules I should have let that one go. I guess that one worked out. It's the longest one I've had."

The 24-year-old wide receiver later said it was "relieving."

"Definitely to get some points on the board through special teams is nice," he said, "especially for our offense and for the whole team. It felt good."

The game wasn't entirely a success for the second-year Ram as, on his next attempt, he fumbled during a punt return that led to the Vikings' first touchdown.

"I just got hit," he said. "It was unfortunate. Better now than in the regular season."

Amendola is one of 10 wide receivers on the roster fighting for playing time and roster spots. There was some talk that after the Rams used a fourth-round draft pick on receiver/returner Mardy Gilyard (Cincinnati) that Amendola might be expendable and might not make the team, but the former Philadelphia Eagles practice squad member has had a strong training camp so far after a good debut season with the Rams last year.

The youngster said he likes the competition among the team's receivers.

"That's the way it goes," he said. "It's competition. That's the way this league is. We do have a bunch of young guys that are ready to emerge and ready to play. I like it because we compete against each other and we get each other better at the same time. We're all good friends."

Amendola was the Ram's third-leading receiver a year ago — behind running back Steven Jackson and wide receiver Donnie Avery — when he caught 43 passes for 326 yards and one touchdown. He averaged 24.5 yards on kickoff returns and 11.6 yards on punt returns, with a long of 56.

On Saturday night, the 5-foot-11, 186-pounder caught one pass for five yards and a first down early in the second quarter during rookie quarterback Sam Bradford's first series.

"He's a very poised quarterback," Amendola said. "You can tell he's been there before. I'm excited to see some of the things in the future."

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