Romo: Patriots defense coming into its own

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Romo: Patriots defense coming into its own

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO --Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo talked about thePatriots defense in a conference call on Wednesday, and wasnt buying into thefact that the big plays theyve allowed this season define what they reallyare.

You can tell theyre well-coached, said Romo. They playthe right technique. They played really good ball last week, and when you watchthem, they have a couple big guys up front that can create a problem. Youvejust got to be ready. They do a lot of different stuff.

Its early in the year, added Romo. I think with theoffseason there were some things of that nature that just probably took alittle bit of time, schematically, to get a lot of stuff in. But they playedreally well last week. In stretches, theyve played really good ball. So Idont know that thats who they are. I think, really, theyre a good defensiveunit thats just coming into their own lately. And I think theyre going to bepretty good the rest of the way.

When studying New Englands defense, Romo described the twofaces hes most familiar with from their time in Washington: Andre Carter andAlbert Haynesworth.

Andres got a great motor, said Romo. Hes alwaysfighting. Hes going to go to the whistle. He gets off the ball well. Hes astrong player. He can rush the quarterback good, but he also gets back.

With Albert, hes a tough matchup, said Romo. Hes a goodplayer that you have to account for. Hes got a great history with the way hesplayed over the years, and just a guy that we have to be ready for.

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)