Belichick's old plan for punching up practice

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Belichick's old plan for punching up practice

FOXBORO --Entertaining anecdote or decades-old fuel for the Nanny Brigade? I guess we'll find out in the next few days. Anyway, old friend Chad Eaton revealed to the Dayton Daily News in a recent profile that, way back when Bill Belichick was coaching in Cleveland, Eaton was encouraged to instigate fights. And, lo and behold, an envelope would appear in his locker later that week.

If practice was going slow, hed look at me and just say, Its time, Eaton said. He wanted me to get on somebodys case and start a little fight. I was known for that and it paid off on Fridays. Thered always be some extra money in my locker. Practice players dont make much, so I really appreciated it.The story was brought to light by my friend Mike Florio on Pro Football Talk. It immediately reminded me of a story back in 2000 when Belichick allegedlybought another dustup, that one initiated by Rob Gattrell. Chad Finn of The Boston Globe found the story of a source telling Nick Cafardo that Gattrell was paid 200 to go after Lawyer Milloy. Belichick denied it back in 2000. And when asked about the Eaton story on Friday, Belichick said he didn't remember such a thing happening. Florio noted that greasing palms with cash for any reason may run afoul of NFL salary cap rules. Hopefully, the statute of limitations has long since kicked in and the league doesn't send its investigative geniuses sniffing around to see if Belichick's still running a practice squad fight club.My hunch is that he probably isn't.
First, that 2000 Patriots team and those Cleveland teams were trying to forge indentities. This team has established its identity. Belichick has also been heard on NFL Films segments in recent years taking a stance against practice fighting, seeing it as a waste of energy. And the cost of help now compared to back then makes it unlikely that he'd be interested in risking hands, knees and personnel by asking for a brouhaha.

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)