One thing sticks out to Patriots running back Dion Lewis about his time with the Philadelphia Eagles.
”Not playing Authentic Jeremy Kerley Jersey ,” Lewis said Tuesday with a smirk.
Lewis is one of three Patriots starters who will be facing their former team in Sunday’s Super Bowl, along with receiver Danny Amendola and safety Patrick Chung.
All three players look back on their experiences in Philadelphia differently, but they have played their best football since being rejected by the Eagles early in their careers.
Lewis was drafted by Philadelphia in the fifth round in 2011 and played two seasons for them before he was traded to Cleveland. Amendola was among Philadelphia’s final cuts in training camp in 2009. Chung started his career in New England, spent a forgettable year with the Eagles in 2013, then returned to the Patriots in 2014.
Amendola has experienced people doubting his abilities since he entered the league as an undrafted free agent with Dallas in 2008. He signed with Philadelphia in 2009 after being cut by the Cowboys. But after eight months with the Eagles, he was released. He was signed up by the St. Louis Rams and stayed there for four seasons before signing a five-year contract with the Patriots in 2013.
This past Christmas he tweeted a picture of his framed No. 11 Eagles jersey, a gift from a friend.
”It’s in my pool room – hanging as daily motivation,” Amendola said. ”I’ve come a long way since getting the opportunity to play there. It obviously didn’t work out, so I guess I take it as a learning experience and just realize how far I’ve come.”
Chung thought he was heading for a fresh start when he signed a three-year contract with Philadelphia in 2013, but it didn’t work out under then first-year coach Chip Kelly. Chung was back in New England the next season. The decision paid off with a Super Bowl ring last season.
As for that 2013 season, Chung was coy about what he remembers about the experience.
”That’ll be between me and those people,” Chung said.
Lewis said despite his success in New England winning a ring last season and leading the team this season in rushing yards (896) and rushing touchdowns (six), he has learned to stay motivated.
”Never safe. You still gotta put the work in. You still gotta get an opportunity. That’s what most of the guys in the league need – just an opportunity to compete,” Lewis said.
He said he’s matured a lot since leaving Philly.
”People look at you and kind of characterize you,” Lewis said. ”They try to tell you what they think you can do without even really knowing you. That’s kind of what I went through. I just kind of keep battling and showing people what I can do.”
As much as Lewis, Amendola and Chung have enjoyed their time in New England, they aren’t naive to how the Patriots deal with aging players. This past offseason the Patriots parted with LeGarrette Blount, who led the NFL with 18 regular-season rushing touchdowns in 2016. But he also had turned 30, long considered the age of decline for running backs.
Blount was vocal about his desire to stay in New England, but the Patriots signed Mike Gillislee. Blount took a one-year deal with the Eagles, where he has had a good season and been a leader.
Amendola restructured his contract to remain with New England this season. With Julian Edelman out for the season with a knee injury Authentic Trent Murphy Jersey , Amendola has stepped up, leading the team with 196 yards receiving and two touchdowns in the playoffs.
At 32, he will also enter free agency this summer.
Lewis is in the second year of a two-year deal and becomes an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. Chung, who turns 31 this summer, is signed through 2018.
Chung said he’s always admired Belichick’s no-nonsense approach to football. When reports came out about Belichick possibly considering retirement, Chung joked that his future was linked to that of his coach.
”When he’s done, I’ll be done, too,” Chung said.
Lewis said he will have no regrets if this is in his final season in New England.
”Just being here and learning what it takes to be a champion,” Lewis said. ”I think that’s something I’ll always remember, regardless of what happens. I’ll just cherish my moments here.”
The Patriots gave him – and Amendola and Chung – what they’ve always wanted: an opportunity.
”Nobody’s really given me a chance, and these guys gave me a chance. So that definitely means a lot to me,” Lewis said. ”So I’ll always just remember what I’ve learned here. And hopefully I’ll still be here.”
A little rest did Kris Bryant a lot of good.
Bryant ended a 24-game homerless drought, the longest of his career, and Ian Happ and Kyle Schwarber also went deep as the Chicago Cubs routed the St. Louis Cardinals 13-5 on Friday night.
”I know that there’s probably going to be plenty more times in my career when that happens and it’s all part of the journey,” Bryant said about his power outage. ”As much as we hate it as players, everybody goes through it at some point in their careers. It’s nothing new to me, so on the surface everything has been peachy and pretty easy for me, but it never felt easy.”
Bryant drilled a 448-foot, two-run shot to left field off an ineffective Michael Wacha in the third inning for his first home run since May 14. The 2016 NL MVP capped a six-run fifth with an RBI single and drove in another run with a sacrifice fly in the seventh. His four RBIs were a season high.
Bryant had been hitless in his four previous games. Cubs manager Joe Maddon sat the All-Star slugger on Wednesday and Thursday.
”It looked like the ball was coming (off his bat) hotter,” Maddon said. ”I thought KB looked good. He looked good. I loved the base hit Authentic Isaiah Oliver Jersey , I loved the sacrifice fly.”
Jon Lester ran his scoreless streak to 17 innings before giving up a solo home run to Marcell Ozuna in the fourth as the Cubs won for the first time in four tries at Busch Stadium this season. Lester (8-2) allowed two runs in six innings to earn his fourth straight win.
”That might be the best stuff he’s had all year from my angle,” Maddon said. ”That velocity was there. He just continues to trend in the right direction.”
Lester helped himself at the plate, too, driving in a run on a bunt in the fourth and reaching on catcher Yadier Molina’s throwing error that led to a second run as the Cubs extended their lead to 5-0.
Anthony Rizzo had three hits, was hit by a pitch and scored a run. Schwarber launched a three-run homer that traveled a projected 465 feet to straightaway center in the fifth, the third-longest homer by an opposing player in Busch Stadium III history.
Happ led off the third with a home run to right field. His first homer since May 22 snapped a 20-inning scoreless streak for the Cubs.
”We hit homers but we also did the little things well, too,” Maddon said. ”We ran the bases well.”
Wacha (8-2) allowed a career-high nine runs, eight earned, in a season-low four-plus innings. The three home runs he gave up tied a career high.
”I was just falling behind in the counts,” Wacha said. ”A lot of 1-0, 2-0s and just too many mistakes and they didn’t miss too many of them.”
Matt Carpenter homered in the sixth and drove in two runs, but the Cardinals lost their third consecutive game.
”Bottom line, we lost and it wasn’t pretty,” manager Mike Matheny said. ”And it’s a matter of trying to conserve arms, trying to get a couple guys off their feet and figure out a way to have some individual things that are done well and build on and have some confidence that will put us in a better spot tomorrow.”
Cubs: RHP Yu Darvish (right triceps tendinitis) threw a 35-pitch bullpen. He is scheduled to throw another one when the team returns home next week.
Cardinals: 1B Luke Voit was recalled from Double-A Springfield and RHP Matt Bowman (right hand finger blisters) was activated from the 10-day disabled list. 1B Jose Martinez was placed on the paternity list and RHP Daniel Poncedeleon was optioned to Triple-A Memphis.
Cubs RHP Kyle Hendricks (4-6, 3.48 ERA) starts Saturday night against RHP Carlos Martinez (3-2, 2.96). Hendricks has dropped three straight decisions for the first time in his career. Martinez has walked 12 over 7 2/3 innings in two starts since returning from a lat strain.