Branch isn't sweating catchless preseason

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Branch isn't sweating catchless preseason

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
In two preseason games, Deion Branch has had a ball thrown in his direction once. One time. Kathy Bates gets more passes (fwamp).

Branch threw a tremendous tirade about it during a conference call with media Monday afternoon. (No. He didn't.)

"As a receiver you want the ball, but we understand and I understand what were doing as far as working the things that were trying to do, working the kinks out in our offense," Branch explained. "Trust me, I have all the confidence in the world that Tom Brady will find me when he needs me, when the coaches make certain play calls for him to come to me with the ball. Right now Im not stressing over the fact that I havent caught a ball in preseason."

Unlike Chad Ochocinco, Branch has a deep knowledge of this offense. He can spend the preseason getting his reps, while Ocho really needs looks and touches at this point.

Branch said the offense can be hard to grasp, although it wasn't for him as a rookie coming out of Louisville because he ran similar routes.

"I didnt think the offense was that hard for me my rookie season because we sort of ran some of the things," he explained. "Language may be different, but the play is pretty much going to be the same routes and all that stuff. But its just all based on the individual. And then just working with Tom Brady. Its a pretty complex offense.

"I think once you get it, you understand it. Once you take the time to figure out one players position and then you can go and learn another position and another one."

With Ocho getting immersed, Taylor Price, Julian Edelman and Brandon Tate trying to establish their roles, Branch is the least of the Patriots wideout worries.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran.

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)