Patriots make moves to cut roster down

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Patriots make moves to cut roster down

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn
Like every NFL team this time of year, the New England Patriots are trying to find the right pieces to create a championship-caliber squad.

That requires adding talent, and at times, letting some get away.

As the Patriots went about trimming their roster down to the 80 players required by tomorrow, they did a little bit of both.

Of the 11 players released, none of the moves stood out more than the decision to release veteran safety James Sanders.

"Tough release there with James Sanders," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said on his weekly press conference Monday afternoon. "James has been a really good guy to have on this team, a hard working kid. Has developed from the time he came to us, he's been a really solid team player for us. We needed to release some people. He was a tough one."

Sanders, a fourth-round pick of the Patriots in 2005, appeared in 80 games for the Pats (50 starts), totally 301 tackles and eight interceptions. Although the Patriots are relatively thin in the secondary, the Pats surely had to weigh whether Sanders likely reduced role justified the 2.8 million salary he's due to make this season.

While Sanders was the most notable release, the Patriots also released tight end Garrett Mills; long snapper Matt Katula (Belichick said the team will sign another long snapper by Thursday); wide receivers Tyree Barnes and Darnell Jenkins; kick Chris Koepplin; defensive end Clay Nurse; defensive tackle Kade Weston; guard Mark Wetterer; defensive back Malcolm Williams and cornerback Jonathan Wilhite.

The Patriots announced the signing of wide receiver Tiquan Underwood, a seventh-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2009. The former Rutgers star had eight receptions while appearing in 13 games over the past two seasons for the Jaguars who waived him last week.

New England also announced the return of safety Ross Ventrone, who was released earlier this month after spending most of last season on the practice squad.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

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)