FOXBORO - Danny Amendola's heroic effort in the Patriots' 23-21 victory over the Buffalo Bills in the season opener was a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts.
The Patriots' wide receiver, saddled with a history of injury-related absences over his three previous seasons with the St. Louis Rams, was proving that he had developed a nice chemistry with quarterback Tom Brady when he aggravated a groin pull late in the first half of the game at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Amazingly, the treatment given to Amendola at halftime enabled him to not only return to the field, but also to produce the majority of his 10 catches for 104 yards that helped the Patriots to pull out the victory.
Unfortunately for Wes Welker's replacement, he hasn't been on the field since - and while it's not certain if he'll be able to return for this Sunday's nationally televised game at the Georgia Dome against the Atlanta Falcons (8:30 p.m.; Ch. 7, 10), he's certain he's getting closer.
"I want to be out there as much as I can," Amendola said Wednesday. "Pressure or no pressure, it's all about being out there. I anticipate being 100 percent shortly. I don't know when, but I'm getting closer."
The fifth-year NFL veteran said he'll do whatever it takes to get back in the lineup.
"It's about playing football," he said. "That's my job and that's why I'm here, and that's playing football. I listen to everybody - coaches, training staff, doctors, whatever - just trying to gain as much knowledge and information and make the best decision."
Amendola wouldn't go into detail about what it took for him to get back onto the field in Buffalo, but he said he put his trust in the training staff - and didn't give any thought to the prospect that he might be damaging the groin muscle more.
"We've got a lot of good trainers here and they do a great job," he said. "It felt good going into the second half and I was able to play."
Over the two weeks he's missed games, Amendola has tried to maintain a positive attitude and keep his head in the game. But he clearly hates missing the time on the field.
"(I'm) staying positive, obviously keeping in the playbook. I go to every meeting and try to obtain as much knowledge as I can. For me, I want to be on the field as much as I can. There's no benefit in sitting out. I'm just worried about getting out there as soon as possible now."
He said he did his homework before deciding not to undergo surgery, which would have kept him off the field for several more weeks.
"I got a lot of opinions from different guys," he said, "and whatever got me on the field fastest and in good health, in good standing and where I could do what I can do, that's the path we're on now."
He admitted that it's difficult to stay sidelined from a mental standpoint, but he's been encouraged by his physical progress. He could barely do simple running drills when he returned to practice after the injuries, but appears to have regained a lot of his mobility quickly as time has passed.
"It's always been hard," he said of being sidelined. "So you just try to get better day by day, that's all I can say. Right now, I'm focused on getting better and getting back on the field."