By Tom E. CurranThe Miami Dolphins reside in that NFL middle class that seems impossible for some teams to escape. They've won 7, 7, 11, 1, 6, 9, 4, 10, 9 and 11 games in the past decade. They're a nice enough team with a smart enough coach and, aside from Brandon Marshall (who recently got pin-cushioned by his wife - allegedly) no real stars. Their 2011 draft didn't change that. For all the agitating about the Dolphins needing a new quarterback or an improved running game, Miami wasn't positioned to take either with their first pick (No. 15) so they took Florida offensive lineman Mike Pouncey. Good, safe pick, although if Pouncey is installed at center he needs to improve his current penchant for snapping the ball all over the map when he's in the shotgun. Miami did get aggressive in the second round, trading up to 62 to take Kansas State running back Daniel Thomas, a 6-foot, 230-pounder. The Dolphins gave up a third, a fifth and a seventh to move up 17 spots. For his size, he's surprisingly fast and elusive and is a smart pick since Ronnie Brown's a would-be free agent. Miami came back in the fourth and took a wideout, 6-0, 192-pound Edmund Gates. A really interesting prospect from Division II Abilene Christian, he runs in the 4.3s and is - at 25 - seen as a mature, diligent, high-effort player who has great ability to go and get the ball. He doesn't have the experience against better competition yet and the lockout could impact him for 2011, though, since he'll need a fair amount of seasoning. The Dolphins rounded it out with an H-Back project named Charles Clay (179), a nose tackle from Alabama A&M named Frank Kearse (231) and a cornernamed Jimmy Wilson (235) from Montana who spent two years in jail on a murder charge for shooting his aunt's boyfriend. His first trial ended in a hung jury; the second in acquital. Miami did a thorough mining of Wilson's background, according to GM Jeff Ireland. SUMMARY: Nothing here that indicates to me the Dolphins are about to leave the middle class. Gates may make them more electric; Thomas is well thought of... I dunno. Hard to get awestruck by a draft that yields a center who has a hard time snapping the football. They told Patriots' third-rounder Ryan Mallett they'd draft him but never got around to it. Mediocre. TE, RB, QB, Wanna think wideout a bit
Tom Giles and CSN Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran discuss Donald Trump mentioning Bill Belichick and Tom Brady in his speech and the questioned asked by the media to Belichick and Brady in response.
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
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)
TE Ladarius Green (concussion/illness)
LB James Harrison (shoulder/triceps)
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (concussion)
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)