On the cuts heard 'round the world

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On the cuts heard 'round the world

"We, uhhh, kept the 53 players that we think give us the best chance to win next Sunday."
Bill Belichick, I assume, at some point this afternoon.

But not even the eventual Belichick treatment will kill the buzz surrounding an eventful cut day over in Foxboro.

First of all, Brian Hoyer's a goner, which means that Ryan "The NFL's Eminem" Mallett is now the Patriots back-up quarterback. This is interesting because I think we all thought that Mallet had another year before he was "back-up ready," but at the same time, I'm not sure how much it matters. Mallett? Hoyer? If it's not Tom Brady, the Pats are in trouble.

Dan Koppen's gone, too. Same goes for Deion Branch. Neither are a huge surprise, but there's definitely some nostalgia involved with watching them go. For instance, how about this: With today's cuts, plus the LightFaulk retirements, Brady and Vince Wilfork are the only two guys left on the roster who have won a Super Bowl with the Pats. When the hell did that happen?

(That is, until they re-sign Hank Poteat)

The other big name (or certainly the hardest to spell) to be released was James Ihedigbo. The UMASS grad came out of nowhere last season to become one of the most likable guys on the team. He brought it every Sunday (and usually separated his shoulder in the process). I'm sorry to see him go, but you know that he'll catch on somewhere if not back with the Pats. And really, can't you say that about all these guys?

Well, maybe not Hoyer. But would you be surprised if Branch, Koppen andor Ihedigbo end up back in New England at some point this year? I'll be more surprised if they don't. But at any rate, they're gone for now. Victims of Patriots "Cut Day" as they trim down to 53.

"The, uhhh, the 53 players that give us the best chance to win next Sunday."

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

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)