Patriots score top marks at NFL Rookie Symposium

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Patriots score top marks at NFL Rookie Symposium

SI.com's "Monday Morning Quarterback" column was written by a different hand this week: Colts rookie tight end Coby Fleener.

Fleener stepped in for a vacationing Peter King to detail the weekend's NFL Rookie Symposium in Canton, Ohio. The Stanford graduate chronicled his time -- what he called "a four-day mini-camp unto itself" -- from a question and answer competition, to a Hall of Fame visit.

The Patriots popped up a few times in Fleener's narrative.

Beginning on Day 1, the rookies were asked eight questions and had 10 seconds to answer each. New England's group took the top spot, winning iPads for the effort. Fleener jokingly asterisked the the first place finish, writing "Further investigation pending." The results were announced Friday.

"After dinner, the "Challenge" results were announced. I have to say that while I was suspicious as to how the Browns got their answers in so quickly, I was equally skeptical of the Patriots' dominance throughout the competition. Either way, I was probably just being a sore loser."

New England special teamer and sometimes-receiver Matthew Slater spoke as part of a players panel. His message made an impression on Fleener.

"Slater talked about his epiphany that not every NFL player will become a star, and how he now does what he can, in his role, to help his team win."

Things got serious on Day 2. A Patriot from the past shared some wisdom with the new kids.

"After a few more skits portraying real life situations, another panel took place consisting of NFL Director of Player Security Services Deana Garner, former linebacker Mike Vrabel and Freeman. The group emphasized taking the proper precautionary steps to avoid getting into troublesome situations."

Saturday marked a trip to the NFL Hall of Fame. One Patriot honoree -- not much older than Fleener -- made his presence felt in a special way.

"Seeing equipment and memorabilia of players such as Tony Gonzalez and Rob Gronkowski from different record-setting moments. Shoes, jerseys and footballs were displayed in cases with information about them on a card nearby. There were a lot more, but (naturally!) I wanted to highlight the tight ends."

Floyd looks to improve rapport with Brady: 'Tom likes things a certain way'

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Floyd looks to improve rapport with Brady: 'Tom likes things a certain way'

FOXBORO -- Michael Floyd has been with the Patriots for about a month, and he admits he still has a lot to learn.

Specifically when it comes to his rapport with Tom Brady, Floyd knows there's room for improvement. Against the Texans last weekend, he was targeted three times. One led to a pick. Another was almost picked. One was caught for nine yards. 

On the intercepted pass and the near-interception, Floyd ran slant routes from the left side of the Patriots formation, but he appeared to run them in ways that Brady didn't anticipate. Instead of coming back toward the ball as it approached, Floyd leaked up the field, perhaps hoping to turn what would be an intermediate gain into a bigger play. 

On WEEI earlier this week, Brady took the blame for the pick. But Floyd shouldered his share of responsibility for the turnover on Wednesday.

"You just gotta come downhill," he said. "Obviously at this time of the year, a lot of guys are really checked in on film work and how you play and splits and stuff like that. You gotta make sure you're really fundamentally sound and come downhill to every single ball."

It's one of many lessons Floyd has tried to absorb since being claimed off of waivers by the Patriots in mid-December.

In the regular-season finale against the Dolphins, he looked to be learning at an impressive rate as he caught three passes for 36 yards and laid a monster block that helped spring Julian Edelman for the longest touchdown reception of his career. 

As he prepared for the AFC title game, though, he acknowedleged that he has a way to go -- particularly when it comes to understanding the nuances of how his ever-demanding quarterback wants things done.

"I've only been here a month so I think that's every single day," Floyd said of getting to know Brady's preferences. "I gotta keep my head in the playbook and ask questions. That's what I do every single day. There's nothing wrong about asking a question. They see that I'm the new guy here, and I -- for the most part -- get all the answers that I need."

He added: "Tom likes things a certain way. Me being the new guy, or any of us, we make sure that we do it that way."

Patriots-Steelers practice report: Full participation for Pats

Patriots-Steelers practice report: Full participation for Pats

Wednesday's practice participation/injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Steelers game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
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

DID NOT PRACTICE
RB Le'Veon Bell (not injury related)
K Chris Boswell (illness)
S Sean Davis (shoulder)
C B.J. Finney (illness)
WR Darrius Heyward-Bay (illness)
QB Zach Mettenberger (illness)
QB Ben Roethlisberger (not injury related)
LB Vince Williams (shoulder)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
LB Anthony Chickillo (ankle)
TE Ladarius Green (concussion)
S Michael Mitchell (not injury related)

FULL PARTICIPATION
LB James Harrison (shoulder/triceps)
DE Ricardo Mathews (ankle)
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (concussion)