Talib hopes to make most of opportunity with Patriots

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Talib hopes to make most of opportunity with Patriots

FOXBORO -- Aqib Talib smiled wide as he approached his new locker at Gillette Stadium. There was a hoard of media members crowded around, anticipating his arrival.

"I was waiting for it," Talib said of the attention he received. "I knew what was coming. I got the heads up."

The crowd on Sunday at Gillette Stadium will be bigger, and all eyes will be glued to the new Patriots cornerback to see if he will be able to contribute immediately to the team's pass defense, which ranks as the fourth-worst in the league in pass yards allowed per game (285.3).

For his part, Talib wouldn't say what his role will be against the Colts, only that he's ready for anything.

"Just coming in to learn quick as possible," he said. "Work hard and see what I can do to help the team. I'm just coming in and doing what's asked to be done. If that's help right away, I'll help right away. If that's help down the road, I'll help down the road. I'm just coming in, doing what's asked to be done."

One area in which it appears as though he's already up to speed: He has Patriots Speak down pat. Not bad for a player who was only able to have contact with the team starting on Monday after serving a four-game suspension for using performance enhancers.

He was traded from the Buccaneers to the Patriots just before the trade deadline two weeks ago in exchange for a New England fourth-round pick.

Talib said that when he met with coach Bill Belichick, the two did not discuss the 26-year-old's checkered past.

"We kinda just talked straight football," Talib said. "He didn't bring up the past, I didn't bring up the past. He didn't bring up the future, I didn't bring up the future. We're kinda just taking it one day at a time."

His new Patriots teammates have embraced him. Quarterback Tom Brady made a point to introduce himself and offer whatever help he could.

Brady said he's liked what he's seen from Talib in the two practices they've had together.

"Yeah, hes been competing hard out there," Brady said. "Its good work for us. Hes been fun to have out there. Ive had a few conversations with him. Well see. Hopefully he can help."

His defensive teammates hope so, too. And though Talib is still in the process of getting caught up with a new scheme, they think he's capable of chipping in soon.

"I think he'll do a real good job for us," Vince Wilfork said. "Hopefully he will. He's a hell of a player so. We brought him in for a reason and that's to help this ball club. Hopefully he can do that. We got a bunch of good guys in here that want to win and have a passion for this game. Hopefully that shows Sunday and we continue to win because that's what it's about at the end of the day."

"He's come in an he's tried to learn all the schemes," Jerod Mayo said, "and he's studied a lot of film and he's learning the Colts. And that's all you can ask for."

Talib has played a lot of man coverage in his five year career, but he says he's comfortable in zone packages as well. Again, he said whatever the team asks of him, he'll do.

"For a corner, you can almost play for any team," he said. "It's football. You gonna play one of eight coverages. I've done it all before. I'm just doing what's being called out there."

Now the Patriots just need to see if he can be an improvement over some of the other players they've tried in the secondary this season.

Talib's hopeful to make the most of his chance.

"It's a great opportunity with a great organization," he said. "Just to come in and do what I can to help win some ball games."

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)