New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola is “almost certain” to miss Thursday night’s home opener against the New York Jets due to a groin injury, according to NFL.com.
Amendola had been bothered by the injury during the preseason, and aggravated it during the first half of Sunday’s victory over the Bills.
The Patriots also placed running back Shane Vereen on short-term injured reserve and added tight end Matt Mulligan back on the 53-man roster.
Mulligan, an Enfield native, who signed with the Patriots on Sept. 2, was released by the National Football League team three days later.
Mulligan, a former University of Maine tight end, joined the Patriots on Sept. 3 after working out for the team the previous day. He had been cut by the Green Bay Packers.
New England is the third NFL stop in 18 months for the 28-year-old Mulligan, who spent the 2012-2013 season with the St. Louis Rams. He appeared in 16 games, including nine starts, and made eight catches for 84 yards, including his only NFL touchdown.
Mulligan was released by the Rams in March, then was signed by Green Bay and spent training camp and the preseason with the Packers.
The 6-foot-4, 275-pounder, who attended Husson University in Bangor for a year before transferring to UMaine, signed with Miami as an undrafted free agent in 2008. He is a veteran of four NFL seasons, including three (2009-2011) with the New York Jets. He has 50 NFL games under his belt.
On Sunday, Amendola went to the locker room, but returned in the second half and was the Patriots’ leading receiver with 10 receptions.
“I didn’t really expect anything to happen in the second half. I thought he was going to be out for the rest of the game,” quarterback Tom Brady said after the game.
Amendola hauled in seven passes in the second half, four coming as the only receiver to catch the ball on New England’s drive to a game-winning field goal with 5 seconds to play.
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski did not participate in Tuesday’s walk-through practice and is expected to be listed as doubtful for Thursday’s game.
Gronkowski hasn’t participated in full-contact drills and missed most of the offseason because of multiple surgeries. Zach Sudfield, the undrafted rookie free agent who moved into an expanded role in the offseason with Gronkowski out and Jake Ballard released, was limited with a hamstring injury.
Amendola and Vereen (wrist) were not on the field Tuesday. Vereen broke a bone in Sunday’s victory over the Buffalo Bills.
Vereen led the Patriots with a career-high 101 rushing yards Sunday at Buffalo. He played a greater role because starter Stevan Ridley was benched. Ridley fumbled without being touched by a defender and the ball was returned for the Bills’ first score in New England’s 23-21 victory.
“We never like to see each other make mistakes, but they happen,” Brady said Tuesday. “We fumbled the snap on the goal line, I threw an interception. You’ve got to be able to bounce back from those things. Football’s not necessarily a game of perfect, it’s just you try to limit what your bad plays are so they’re just not really bad plays or really critical plays in the game. I think the mental toughness from all of us to try to bounce back, I know Stevan is a very mentally tough kid, and I love having him back there. I love giving the ball to him, watching him run. He’s done a great job with that since he’s got here.”
LeGarrette Blount, one of the Patriots’ bright spots in the preseason, could be more involved. Ridley said Sunday he believed he’d have to work to get his first-team spot back. Ridley fumbled a second time against the Bills but New England retained possession.
Some of Vereen’s workload as a third-down back could be assigned to veteran Leon Washington, who was brought back after being released in final roster cuts. Brady is an unabashed supporter of Washington.
“He’s provided great leadership, one of the best kick returners in the league,” Brady said. “I have a lot of confidence in him at the running back position, and doing a lot of things that we asked Shane (Vereen) to do when Shane was in there, so whatever role he fits, I’m confident in him. (I’m) confident in Stevan (Ridley), I’m confident in LeGarrette (Blount), Brandon Bolden — I mean, we’ve got a good group.”
Bolden was inactive for Week 1 with a knee injury and his status for Thursday’s game is up in the air. He’s listed as questionable and was a limited participant in Tuesday’s light walkthrough.