Despite moving parts, offensive line remains strong

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Despite moving parts, offensive line remains strong

FOXBORO -- With Sebastian Vollmer inactive for Thursday night's game against the Jets, Marcus Cannon made the start at right tackle for the Patriots.

And Bill Belichick was pleased with what he saw.

"Marcus did a real good job filling in there at right tackle," said the Patriots' coach in a conference call on Friday. "I thought he did a good job in the passing game. He also had some strong run blocks. We all know he's a very athletic and powerful man. And he played to that a number of times, which I thought he did for us in preseason and then in training camp as well. He showed a very good presence on the field at that spot."

Belichick went on to praise the entire offensive line this season, for being a reliable group, even with all the moving parts.

"I think it's a real credit to the way that group works together, the way they practice together, and certainly the way that Dante Scarnecchia has molded them as a group and as a very respective offensive line unit," said Belichick. "That's even at practice when we move those people in and out of the lineup. Different guys play center. Different guys play the guard positions. We roll the tackles through, and so forth.

"It's a very comforting feeling to know that whichever guys have to go in there and play, they've all played with each other, the communication is good, and they can physically and functionally do the job that they're asked to do, and do it at a high competitive level.

"It's been a strength for us through the years, and it continues to be this year so far."

Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

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Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

FOXBORO -- The Patriots will head into Sunday's AFC title game with seven players listed as questionable, including three receivers. 

Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan have all been limited in practices this week due to their injuries. Amendola has been dealing with an ankle issue since a Week 13 win over the Rams, while Mitchell has not played since injuring his knee in Week 16 against the Jets. Hogan suffered a thigh injury against the Texans and left the game in the third quarter.

Both Hogan and Mitchell indicated this week that they were moving in the right direction in terms of their recoveries. One would think that the Patriots would need at least one, if not both, to help stress the back end of the Steelers secondary this weekend.

Hogan has been the team's most consistent down-the-field threat this season, averaging a whopping 17.9 yards per catch during the regular season. Against the Texans, before his injury, he reeled in four passes for 95 yards. 

Mitchell, meanwhile, had a very productive second half of his rookie season before he was hurt. He compiled 25 catches for 306 yards between Weeks 11 and 16, establishing himself as one of Tom Brady's go-to targets. 

The overall health of the Patriots receiving corps -- which will also include Julian Edelman and Michael Floyd -- will bear watching when the Patriots and Steelers kick off in two days.

The injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Steelers game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

QUESTIONABLE
WR Danny Amendola (ankle)
TE Martellus Bennett (knee)
RB Brandon Bolden (knee)
LB Dont'a Hightower (shoulder)
WR Chris Hogan (thigh)
WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee)
DL Jabaal Sheard (knee)

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

QUESTIONABLE
TE Ladarius Green (concussion/illness)
LB James Harrison (shoulder/triceps)
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (concussion)

NOT LISTED
RB Le'Veon Bell (not injury related)
K Chris Boswell (illness)
LB Anthony Chickillo (ankle)
S Sean Davis (shoulder)
C B.J. Finney (illness)
WR Darrius Heyward-Bay (illness)
DE Ricardo Mathews (ankle)
QB Zach Mettenberger (illness)
S Michael Mitchell (not injury related)
QB Ben Roethlisberger (not injury related)
LB Vince Williams (shoulder)