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  1. #1
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    Small in stature, Amendola coming up big for Rams ..

    BY BILL COATS • Friday, October 8, 2010

    Asked to describe Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola in one word, running back Steven Jackson replied, "Feisty."

    "Electric," said wideout Mark Clayton.

    "Quick," said fullback Mike Karney.

    "Tenacious," said wideout Brandon Gibson.

    "Energetic," said quarterback Sam Bradford.

    "Special," said wideout Laurent Robinson.

    "Competitive," said offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur.

    Amendola laughed when asked to portray himself in one word. "What did the others say?" he asked before finally settling on "effort."

    All are apt adjectives for Amendola, who although he's listed at 5 feet 11 and 186 pounds admitted that he's actually 5-10 and 180. He's the Rams' second-leading receiver, with 21 catches for 208 yards, heading into Sunday's game at Detroit.

    Still, one more word is needed to complete the Amendola outline: "tough."

    "You know what, that's probably the word I would've picked before 'quick,' how tough he is," Karney said. "He'll take some big hits out there. The guy's got a lot of guts."

    Robinson called Amendola "the toughest little guy I've seen. Doesn't care about anything. Just one tough guy."

    Added coach Steve Spagnuolo: "He's off the charts there, in everything he does. ... Walking in the hallway, he looks tough."

    Always 'a handful'

    Willie Amendola chuckled at the various depictions of the youngest of his two sons. "He's been like that since the day he was born, believe me," he said. "He was a handful when he was little."

    Growing up in The Woodlands, a suburb of Houston, Danny was what his father termed a "tag-along kind of guy." Brother Matt was 5 years older, and Danny constantly was in competition with bigger boys.

    "He learned to defend himself," Willie Amendola said.

    Or as Weldon Willig, who coached both Amendola brothers at The Woodlands High, put it, "Younger brothers get to be tougher, because they have the hell beat out of them every day as they're growing up."

    Willie Amendola is the head football coach and athletics director at Dekaney High in Houston. After a long day at practice, he faced the daunting challenge of putting young Danny down for the night.

    "Couldn't get him to bed," Willie recalled. "You'd have to chase him around the house, and I couldn't catch him. We used to do what we called race to bed. So wherever he was, 'I'll race you to bed.'

    "One day he leaped from the doorway over the bed and put his head right through the headboard. Didn't blink an eye."

    Danny played football, basketball and baseball; his father thought the latter would be his future. "He played baseball like he plays football," Willie said. "He had that aggressive nature in baseball, too."

    Which sometimes got him in trouble.

    "I had a deal with running over the catcher," Danny said. "I couldn't slide; I'd always have to hit the catcher. I got thrown out of a couple of games because of that in high school.

    "Baseball didn't really fit my personality as well as football does."

    Though he was just 138 pounds at the time, Danny made the varsity as a sophomore wideout and safety at The Woodlands, a big-school powerhouse in football-mad Texas. He made up for his lack of size with determination, Willig said.

    "Danny has as big a heart as anybody," he continued. "Danny was never going to be hurt, or would never admit it. He might get his eyes crossed with a hit, but he would jump up: 'I'm fine, I'm good.'

    "He was a coach's dream."

    Bound for Lubbock

    Amendola committed to Texas Tech during his junior year, smitten with then-coach Mike Leach's pass-heavy offense.

    In Lubbock, he quickly earned a nickname. "From when I first got there, it was 'Wes Welker Jr.,'" he said. The comparison with the former Red Raiders wideout — and current New England Patriots standout — was evident.

    "Short, little, white slot receiver. And coming from the same college, I can definitely see that," said Amendola, 24.

    Leach called Amendola "one of the grittiest players I've ever been around. ... He wouldn't be a guy who you would want to be in a paper bag with and get shaken up to see who makes it out, because he really is a tough person."

    Amendola didn't earn the same plaudits as Welker, despite having 103 receptions for 1,177 yards his senior year. That's partly because Tech freshman Michael Crabtree led the nation with 125 catches for 1,861 yards and won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver.

    Dallas signed Amendola as an undrafted rookie, and he spent 2008 on the Cowboys' practice squad. He started the 2009 season on Philadelphia's practice squad. Biding his time wasn't easy.

    "You come in on practice squad and you know you're not going to play in the game, you know you're not going to get any reps," Amendola said. "It's frustrating ... you don't want to just practice your whole life. You want to practice to play."

    The Rams gave him that chance when they signed him to their 53-man active roster off the Eagles' practice squad in September 2009. "I was just really excited," Amendola said. "But at the same time, I knew with this great opportunity there was responsibility, that I had to perform."

    Toughness on display

    Amendola got into 14 games last year, catching 43 passes for 326 yards and a touchdown. He also was the club's primary return man, where his toughness was on full display.

    On Nov. 1 at Detroit, Amendola absorbed a vicious blow on a kickoff return. He bounced back to his feet, but "I didn't even know I got tackled. The next thing I knew, I was walking on the field all confused," said Amendola, who missed just one game because of a concussion.

    Three weeks ago at Oakland, Amendola was body-slammed by 255-pound Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain after catching a pass over the middle. On the next snap, Amendola charged into the same area for another grab, virtually daring McClain — who subsequently was fined $5,000 — to have another go at him.

    "He's makes plays, catches the ball, gets hit, runs into middle linebackers," Gibson said. "He's a rare breed."

    As Amendola explained, he simply doesn't know any other way.

    "I just love playing the game," he said. "I learned it from my father, and he taught me to play every play as hard as you can, whether it's a run or it's a pass. I'm not going to be able to play forever, so I might as well go all out when I am.

    "I'm not the biggest dude, and I'm not the fastest dude. But I feel like I can play this game."


  2. #2
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    Re: Small in stature, Amendola coming up big for Rams ..

    Gotta love these kind of players, True Grit.

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    Re: Small in stature, Amendola coming up big for Rams ..

    good read! love reading stories of building blocks to greatness.
    LA RAMMER

    It's Jim not Chris
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HNgqQVHI_8

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    Re: Small in stature, Amendola coming up big for Rams ..

    A great find, great story and great to have him wear the Rams colors.

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    MauiRam's Avatar
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    Re: Small in stature, Amendola coming up big for Rams ..

    Danny is the epitome of "The Little Engine That Could." We really are lucky to have him, and I'm sure all the Rams' coaches along with his teammates are of the same mind ..

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    Re: Small in stature, Amendola coming up big for Rams ..

    I want to see him in a Rams jersey for a long time.
    Si vous croyez en vous, que vous avez de la fierté, et que vous ne lâchez jamais, vous serez un gagnant.
    Le prix de la victoire est chère, mais la récompense en vaut la peine.

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    Re: Small in stature, Amendola coming up big for Rams ..

    When the rams signed him off the practice squad, At the time I didn't think to much of it.. Boy am I glad we have him now. He may not be "elite" what does elite mean anyways? But he is awesome!

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