Game-day HGH testing a sticky proposition

191543.jpg

Game-day HGH testing a sticky proposition

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
FOXBORO - Noon rolls around in an NFL stadium and players are in the throes of preparation for a 1 o'clock kick. Tape is being affixed. Stomachs are being emptied. Final preparations are being made. And here comes an NFL drug tester with a needle ready to take a tablespoon of blood. The NFL's new collective bargaining agreement includes HGH testing and the only test for that is a blood test. And that will and can be performed on game day. Adolpho Birch, the NFLs senior vice president for the law and labor policy said on Tuesday, "We have historically not been particularly desirous to use game-day testing because of the logistical issues involved much more so than any philosophical issues. In the NFL, game days have a lot of moving parts, so historically, we have adjusted the way we test in order to account for the fact that we do not test on game days.
"But we have now developed a solution that will allow us to do game-day testing in a way that is not overly disruptive to the clubs and respects the game-day process and all of the things going on."In a separate interview, Birch mentioned, "For this test, you need less than a tablespoon of blood."This should be interesting. "Pardon me, Vince? Vince Wilfork? Are those your size 15 cleats I see under the stall wall? When you're done, I need to take some blood. A teaspoon or so. Won't take long."There is some irony in what is going to be a burgeoning point of contention between players and the league. This is thecountry's most violent sport, a three-hour cavalcade of collisions and open wounds. Yet these pregame needles - which the rank-and-file players may not yet know are coming - will be a major annoyance. I think people wanted to get a deal done so badly that it was overlooked, said Steelers safety Ryan Clark. In that sense, players kind of got screwed, for lack of a better word."Screwed first. Needle second. "Theres every possibility that the program will be implemented by the first game of this season because thats what the parties have committed to," said Birch. "Thats what I have every expectation that we will accomplish."While players are currently trying to cram a full offseason of preparation into a five-week period, game-day blood drawing to test for HGH is something that's been lost in the shuffle. It may not be for long.
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

new-england-patriots-helmets-121215_0.jpg

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)