NFL Combine set to begin

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NFL Combine set to begin

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

INDIANAPOLIS - With no formal access to players and coaches on this Wednesday before the NFL Scouting Combine starts, we've spent the day getting our agenda set for this week (read: loitering in lobbies, rattling the locked gates at Lucas Oil Stadium and staying out of harm's way). The Patriots' contingent is trickling in gradually. The scouting department is pretty much all here, but Bill Belichick isn't expected until Thursday. Instead of flying coaches down en masse for the week, I'm hearing the team is having specific position coaches fly in for the workout and interview portions of their specialty. The Patriots will conduct their player interviews in a large meeting room at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown. That's the hotel that houses all draft prospects. There's a security desk there staffed by Indy cops so that no riff-raff reporters get through. New England normally holds its meetings well into the evening with prospects - until close to midnight in the past - so thePatriots' coaches aren't out and about quite as much as other staffs. The Patriots low-key it at these events and I'm not even sure yet if Belichick is going to meet with the media. Last season, Nick Caserio, the VP of Player Personnel did most of the talking. There is an NFLmeeting scheduled for Thursday, to which each team is supposed to send its head coach, GM and a finance guy.That would be Belichick, Caserio and - most likely - Floyd Reese. Meanwhile, a planned Thursday meeting with a select group of agents has been cancelled. The agents will meet en masse with the NFLPA on Friday. Attendance is said to be mandatory. In both cases, it's expected the meetings will be held to answer questions and give info about what the marching orders for contact are if and when the CBA expires March 4. So many players are about to hit free agency, so the question is: can agents discuss their clients with decision-makers from teams who may be interested in draft prospects once the CBA expires.Talking this week is supposed to be tampering, but every team flouts that rule. I'll be lookingto track down Logan Mankins' agent Frank Bauer after the agent meeting. I'm sure he'll be psyched to see me.We'll be talking to offensive linemen, kickers, punters, long snappers andtight ends tomorrow.

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)