Sterling Moore settling into NFL career

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Sterling Moore settling into NFL career

FOXBORO -- Patriots defensive back Sterling Moore, like most players, is settling into the NFL in his second season.
"I wouldn't say I'm established yet," he told reporters Friday. "I'm going to go out there every week and try to show I deserve to be out there on the field. But I'm more comfortable being here with the team and in the defense."
As it goes, the best players for the job are the ones on the field. It just so happens Moore's playing time is on the rise.
The 22-year old played just one snap in New England's season opener against Tennessee. Ras-I Dowling got the nod ahead of him, earning 37 snaps (57 percent of the defense's total). In Week 2, not only did Moore play 29 snaps (46 percent of the total), seeing a lot of time in New England's nickel defense, but Dowling was a healthy scratch.
He feels he's ready for the jump, especially after having a full offseason with the team. Last year he didn't sign with the practice squad, let alone join the 53-man roster, until October.
"I'm a lot more comfortable," he said. "It's night and day for me, cause I came in, didn't know the techniques they wanted me to play, didn't really know the defensive schemes, I was just kind of thrown out there. This year I know who I'm out there with, I know where they're going to be, and I know the scheme. It helps slow the game down for me."
Moore is all too happy to put distance between this year and the last. Was he thrilled to play in a Super Bowl his first year in the league? Absolutely. Does it make him sick to recall how the Giants' win almost came down to Lee Evans making the game-winning touchdown catch in his face? Ab-so-lutely.
"I've seen it quite a bit," Moore said of the play, "but most times I try to change the channel every time it comes on."
Yes, even though Evans didn't make the catch. Moore's ball strip that saved that play -- saved the game for at least another moment -- was just a hairsbreadth away from a totally different outcome.
"It kind of reminds me how close I was to kind of losing the game."
So he's moved on. From everything -- last year's harried learning curve, Super Bowl XLVI, even the early insecurity of 2012. Moore isn't willing to dwell.
"I just shrug it off."
And settle in.

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)