McCourty praises Johnson, Bills wideouts

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McCourty praises Johnson, Bills wideouts

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @dannypicard
FOXBORO --Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson is nursing agroin injury, and after not practicing on Wednesday, his status is unknown forSundays game against the Patriots.

But with the Bills offense thriving through the first twoweeks of the regular season, it would be tough to believe that Johnson wouldsomehow miss this one.

If he does play, theres no doubt hell be lined up withPatriots cornerback Devin McCourty, who gave the scouting report on Buffaloswideouts on Thursday.

Buffalo, theyre pretty hot, and I think one thing thatsimportant is, they spread the ball around, said McCourty. You talk aboutDavid Nelson and Stevie Johnson, and then you also have Donald Jones, whosplaying very well. So even with Roscoe Parrish down, they still have a bunch ofreceivers that are capable. So it doesnt get any easier week-by-week.

More specifically, McCourty also talked about Johnson, andthe versatility that he brings to the Bills passing game.

I think overall, hes not a guy that you can say, He onlydoes this. If you take this away, then you can stop him. Hes a guy that doeseverything pretty well, said McCourty. Hes a bigger guy, not the biggestguy. But he goes up and gets jump balls. He goes and runs routes inside. Heruns routes outside. He lines up in the slot. He lines up outside. So hes justa versatile receiver that can do everything on the field.

Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick will certainly be lookingfor Johnson (if he plays) on Sunday, and when describing Fitzpatricks strengths, McCourty was sureto point out his mind for the game.

The biggest thing is hes a Harvard graduate, so hes verysmart, said McCourty. I think thats what you see . . . Hes kind of runningthat show, and its moving pretty well. I think thats the main thing.

Hes not throwing interceptions. Hes not taking sacks.Hes not making bad plays. Hes just playing pretty good right now.

In the past, Buffalo hasnt been as good as theyve lookedthrough Week 2 of this season. But McCourty said that this group of Patriotsplayers have respected this Bills group since Week 3 of last season, when theygave the Pats a run for their money at Gillette Stadium, losing to New England38-30.

I think for this team, we have a bunch of guys that haventbeen here a long time to know about all those past games anyways, saidMcCourty. So, if you just look at last year, weve been in tough battles withthem . . . So weve already had that respect for them, and I think theyre nowproving it to everyone else.

As for the Patriots defense, it may be without safetyPatrick Chung on Sunday. Chung underwent surgery on his right thumb this week,and his status for Buffalo is in question.

McCourty is confident that someone can fill the void.

Someone will just have to step up, he said. Were notreally worried about that. Well go day-by-day with the guys out therepracticing, and when it comes to play Sunday, guys step up and guys get readyto go.

Danny Picard is on twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

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)