Quick hits from Belichick on Day 3 of mini-camp

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Quick hits from Belichick on Day 3 of mini-camp

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick shared a few thoughts before saying goodbye to the media (happily) for the summer. Joke was on us; he ended up canceling mini-camp's Day 3 session just an hour later.

Mini-camp is just over a month away, but the players won't get to take their playbooks home and study in the meantime. But there is a reason why.

"We'll make some revisions to it based on some of the things that happen over the week, weeks -- make some modifications to it. The way the playbook's set up, we make some modifications to it every year based on the installation schedule."

Did Belichick really fax Saints interim coach Joe Vitt about joint practice? Yes. Once you get beyond the faxing-as-primary-mode-of-communication part, it's easy to hold interest in the idea. The teams meet in a preseason game on August 9, but just imagine the kind of media response a practice prior to that date would have. Unfortunately, the logistics might be too complicated. The Saints play in the Hall of Fame game on August 5, so fitting a practice somewhere in between would be tough. Still . . .

"It's a possibility. Right now we're really just trying got focus on getting through this mini-camp here." Belichick added they could practice against a different team.

The coach confirmed injured tight end Jake Ballard did make it to Gillette on Wednesday.

"He was here yesterday afternoon. I talked to him and we'll move along with his rehab. We'll see how that goes. He seems to be doing relatively well for where he's at when he had the surgery. "

How about that AFC Championship bling?!

"Bittersweet," Belichick said of the recently received rings. "Whatever it was last year, it was. So it's time to move on." Okay, then.

Of the guys digging in for receiver competition this offseason, you probably don't have Britt Davis high on your watch list. But keep him in mind. The first-year player -- at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds -- has caught the attention of reporters during mini-camp and Belichick said the study is warranted.

"He's been an interesting guy to work with. One of our bigger receivers. He has good size. He's had some experience in our system through former Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels, some familiarity. I think he's adapted well and put himself a good position for training camp."

Even if the Patriots wanted to bring back free agent defensive end Andre Carter, there's currently one issue . . .

"Um . . . We'll see. There isn't a spot now," Belichick said. "Somebody would have to move off." Good point.

We were reminded again of how much higher the stakes are during training camp. Belichick said the players, now left to their own devices, will be counted on to get in shape for the late July practices.

"I think overall these guys are in pretty good shape, but I don't think they're in training camp shape -- real football shape. That will come over the next few weeks -- getting back to their offseason training -- lifting and conditioning and doing things that really get them prepared for the football season from a conditioning standpoint.

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)