Salas believes familiarity with offense will help

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Salas believes familiarity with offense will help

FOXBORO -- New Patriots receiver Greg Salas has a lot to catch up on and not a lot of time to do it.
A Saturday, post-cutdown addition to the team via trade, Salas has just one week before New England takes on the Titans in regular season action. The 24-year old was buried in the playbook during Monday's locker room availability.
"Just refreshing myself with the material and just concentrating on everything about Tennessee," he told the crowd of reporters.
Salas looked a little nervous. He certainly ain't in St. Louis anymore.
"It's a big difference," he said. "I'm just happy to be here."
Why him? Why not Jabar Gaffney, Donte' Stallworth, or (as of now) Deion Branch?
On Sunday, Bill Belichick gave a nod to the young receiver's versatility. And having a solid recommendation from former Rams head coach, current Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels can't hurt -- though Belichick said there was more to it than that.
"Josh had some firsthand experience with the player, no question," Belichick said. "But we scouted him coming out of Hawaii and followed him last year. We had a good feel for him before Josh was here just based on our scouting department and working him out and getting ready for the draft and all that."
The sample size of production in St. Louis was small, after all. Salas played just six games his rookie year because of a broken leg. He was productive for the Rams, recording 27 catches for 264 yards (22 catches in the last four games) in that span.
There are no limitations on that leg now.
So it helps the new playbook shares some similarities with the old one. The familiarity helps. As for where he'll be utilized in the offense, Salas believes he can play both outside and in the slot, as alluded to by Belichick.
"I know the expectations here are to win every game," Salas said, "and that's what I'm here to do."

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)