FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Danny Amendola spent more time with the team trainers last offseason than he did with his teammates on the field. Entering the 2016 season, the veteran receiver didn’t partake in OTAs, minicamp or training camp after having two surgeries (knee and ankle).

That’s why a recent practice was such a big deal for Amendola, who will turn 32 this season. Entering his ninth year, the veteran receiver started off slowly in training camp. He’d typically participate in early drills before departing for a lower field to work with other rehabbing players. But on the ninth day of camp, Amendola was a full participant.

This season is already off on a better note for Amendola, who feels like he still has plenty to give the Patriots.

“I still have more to play. My body feels really good. I feel the best I’ve felt in a long time,” Amendola said. “I’m excited to get out there and kind of get some reps, get some more plays into the preseason and go from there.”

No one would’ve been surprised if last season was Amendola’s last. He not only dealt with two surgeries in the offseason, but a high ankle sprain held him out of the last month of the regular season. Aside from dealing with the health issues, the receiver won his second Super Bowl with the Patriots and played great (eight catches for 78 yards and a touchdown).

But instead of going out on that high note, Amendola hit this offseason on a mission. He worked out with Tom Brady and Julian Edelman in Montana and was ready to go when OTAs started this spring. Amendola wanted to be back with the Patriots and in New England so bad that when the team approached him about restructuring his contract and taking less money, for the third year in a row, he obliged. (With his new deal, the Patriots were able to save $4.75 million in cap space.)

For Amendola, it wasn’t about the money. It was about continuing this journey with the Patriots.

“I love playing for this city. I love playing for this team,” Amendola said when asked about the contract. “I love the atmosphere that coach brings when we walk in the building every day. I want to play good football. I feel like this is the place where I’ll be able to challenge myself and play the best football I can. Ultimately, that’s why I’m here.”

Amendola’s never surpassed the 700-yard mark in his career, but his connect with Brady – especially on third down – has been notable. With a stacked group of receivers this year (Brandin Cooks, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell), it’s unlikely Amendola will set many career highs, but the veteran adds versatility on the field with his return ability.

The key for Amendola is to stay on the field. That’s why the Patriots training staff has held him back. The goal isn’t to practice every day in training camp. It’s to be out there for Week 1 against Kansas City.

“Sometimes the coaches do a good job of holding me back,” Amendola said. “If I was to get out there too soon or if I wasn’t ready or had something that was bothering me a little bit, I would play through it and sometimes it would make things worse. I feel like pace is a huge part of being successful through preseason and on into the season. I like to go full speed all the time. Right now, I’m kind of easing into and getting ready.”

Amendola swears he never thought about retirement this offseason. As the preseason continues, it’s obvious he’s already in a better position than last year.

“I want to play football for some more time. I’m not done yet,” Amendola said. “Wherever that may be, whatever it is, wherever it is, I want to play football at a high level and this is where it’s going to be. I love it here. I’m going to try to make this team. I’m going to try to fill my role whatever that may be. Try to expand my role whatever that may be. Try to be here for my teammates and try to win games. That’s why I’m here.”

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