Ochocinco comes up empty again

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Ochocinco comes up empty again

FOXBORO -- In three games with the Patriots back in 2009, Joey Galloway had seven receptions for 67 yards.

In his first eight games with the Patriots back in 2006, Doug Gabriel had 24 receptions.

In his first eight games with the Patriots this season, Chad Ochocinco has nine receptions. For the third straight game, he was held without a catch. And on Sunday, it wasn't for lack of trying. Tom Brady targeted Ocho five times. The incompletions were -- in nearly every case -- not even near-misses.

Whether it was Brady making poor throws, Ocho running the wrong routes at the wrong depth and with the wrong timing, it's impossible to divine.

Brady, when asked about Ochocinco, said, "Were working at it. Weve only played together for eight games. Were just going to keep working at it. Weve got no other choice but just to keep working at it."

Ocho long ago made it clear he isn't interested in talking football with anyone not willing to genuflect before him and treat him with tender gloves.

And so it goes. A 6 million investment running around in a game that begged for someone, anyone, to help take the heat off of Rob Gronkowski and Wes Welker, and that 6 million investment looking like he just wandered in off Route 1 and put on shoulder pads.

There was an incompletion on a slant that was batted away in the red zone. There was a sideline incompletion when Ocho came down out of bounds. There was a deep out on which Brady threw to the sidelines and Ocho hadn't yet arrived. There was a post-corner looking route on which Ocho seemed to stop and leap before Brady expected him to. And then there was Ocho on the sidelines pleading his case to a frustrated Brady.

Square peg? Meet round hole. It ain't working.

The only question now is whether Bill Belichick is willing to admit that fact, cut his losses and lob Ochocinco overboard or continue to play everyone for fools and pretend that progress is being made.

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)