Pats-Eagles 1st Quarter: Chung dinged; Mallett struggles

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Pats-Eagles 1st Quarter: Chung dinged; Mallett struggles

FOXBORO - The Patriots wanted to keep their key players out of harm's way Monday night.

And trouble still found safety Patrick Chung. On a first-and-10 from the Eagles 44, LeSean McCoy took a direct snap and went around right end where Chung made the stop and paid the price. Chung left the field, had his helmet taken by the training staff and was walked - with a spotter - to the locker room, possibly for neurological tests.

If Chung is down for a few days - and that is likely - rookies Tavon Wilson and Nate Ebner and veteran James Ihedigbo will be moving up the chain. Chung has battled injuries throughout his brief career which have prevented him from reaching his potential.

The Eagles took a more significant blow though. Quarterback Michael Vick went down with an apparent rib injury on a hit from Jermaine Cunningham. Vick was forced to pirouette into Cunningham after a pressure by Kyle Love.

On to the other notes.

Ryan Mallett did not have a good first quarter. Getting the start he threw an interception on a third-and-7 pass intended for Deion Branch. It was a startlingly easy pick for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. That was wiped out by a roughing-the-passer penalty. Given a new life, Mallett took a sack on third-and-7 three plays later. That was wiped out by a defensive hold on Nnamdi Asomugha. Given a third life, Mallett eventually got the Patriots downfield and in for a touchdown early in the second. Mallett finished the quarter 6 for 12 for 60 yards. There was a drop by Jeremy Ebert in there but also a throw off the butt of Eagles corner Joselio Hanson and even on some of his completions (a crossing pattern to Julian Edelman) he threw inaccurately.

Edelman - for all his scintillating work in camp in 1-on-1s - continues to make plays that are questionable. He opted to field a punt at the 7 - iffy decision - then promptly muffed it. Last week, he blundered on a kickoff return. He also had a nice 16-yard run on a quick screen which shows the other side of the coin.

Nate Solder is not looking sharp early. Too much pressure from Trent Cole including one play when he was driven back onto his can. He also got beaten by Cole which led to a screen pass being blown up.

Shane Vereen didn't get a lot of running room and had just 19 yards on nine carries.

Not a good quarter for Marcus Cannon either who had a hold on the second play from scrimmage (he allowed a strip sack in the second as I was writing this).

Brandon Spikes, who was down last week, played this week along with Dont'a Hightower and Bobby Carpenter at linebacker.

The starting Patriots offensive line was Solder and Cannon at the tackles, Dan Connolly and Nick McDonald at guard and Ryan Wendell at center.

Stephen Gostkowski drilled a 51-yard field goal.

The Patriots defensive line is playing well.

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)