Patriots' lockout workouts are under wraps

191543.jpg

Patriots' lockout workouts are under wraps

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

The Patriots first rule for working out en masse during the lockout? Don't talk about working out en masse during the lockout. And that's why you'll see no accompanying video for this story. Or photos. Or quotes from any of the 16 players who've been going hard for over two months with respected trainer Brian McDonough. Initially, we thought we'd put together a nice little package. We'd go visit McDonough at Edge Performance Systems, located at the Foxboro Sports Center. Once there, we'd get some footage of players working out, talk with Jerod Mayo, who's been the ringleader and head organizer, and talk with McDonough.
Then, get the hell out of their way. But McDonough wanted his clients to decide on the level of coverage. So he put it to a vote.You are left withthis simple story. You can lock the Patriots out of their facility, but you can't rip the Patriots out of their Patriotic mindset. What we know? Four days a week for three-and-a-half-hours at a whack, a group of "anywhere from 12 to 16 guys" have been working with the 37-year-old McDonough. Who's he? McDonough'sa Milton native who now lives in Easton with his wife Shauna and daughter Lyla. He's trained more than 150 professional athletes since 2000. The first Patriots he worked with were Troy Brown and Adam Vinatieri. Then it was Christian Fauria and Rodney Harrison. His intensity, preparedness and loyalty to his clients helped his reputation grow. Mayo began working with him in 2008 and, when the lockout hit, Mayo helped reel in the rest of the crew to work with McDonough. Who's there? We don't have a complete list but Matt Light, Dan Koppen, Rob Gronkowski, Brian Hoyer, Mayo and Patrick Chung are some of the regulars we're sureof. What are they doing? "We're covering all the bases from a strength and conditioning standpoint," McDonough said. "We have a turf field, a 40-yard sandpit, everything under the sun for strength, a network of people around me providing yoga, physical therapy, pool work, massage, everything I need."But McDonough readily acknowledged he can'tgive NFL players the soup-to-nuts football preparation they need to be ready for a season."With the absence of position coaches and a full coaching staff, there are certain things we can't cover," McDonough pointed out. "I dont have a playbook. I can't correct technique, for example. I can cover every base from a strength and conditioning standpoint andthis is such agood group of guys in terms ofworking their asses off and feeding off each other and pushing each other. But I think we're all anxious for them to get back to work with their coaching staff."McDonough's also cognizant of the pressure involved in training professional athletes during this lockout when team-sponsored health benefits are suspended. "I am very confident in what I do but, put it this way, there's an added bit of liability," said McDonough. "There are some younger trainers who work with younger athletes and they say to me, 'I'd like to train pro athletes like you.' Sometimes I look at them and say, 'Do you really?' There is a lot to it."It's foreign for the players too. "It's a pretty big shift in what they're used to," he explained. "Paying for health insurance, paying for someone to train you as opposed to having someone pay you to work out. Their mindset seems to be,'Let's control what is in front of us, what we can control. We'll be in the best shape possible and let everything fall as it will."McDonough said he wasn't able to take on any of the newly-drafted Patriots. He says the group is too far along with its conditioning andthathe'd "pretty much topped out" with the number of guys he could work with. Meanwhile, the core group that's showing up tries its best to replicate an NFL offseason. In April, there was a "Back-Seven" minicamp for the defensive backs and linebackers that Mayo hauled everyone in for. "He's one of the most pure leaders and respected people I've seen. Ever," McDonough said. "He's constantly communicating with them, holding everyone accountable. They all do, really. This group has a great dynamic."We'll have to take his word for it.
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)