The New England Patriots should have their full strength on offense, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. TE Martellus Bennett (knee), WR Chris Hogan (thigh), and rookie WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee) are expected to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game.
Patriots Martellus Bennett, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell - all listed as quest. - all are expected to play today vs. Steelers, per sources.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 22, 2017
All three players were listed as “questionable” on the Patriots injury report, alongside WR Danny Amendola (ankle), RB Brandon Bolden (knee), LB Dont’a Hightower (shoulder), and DE Jabaal Sheard (knee).
With Amendola also a possibility to play, WR Michael Floyd could be the odd-man out. One game after lowering a thunderous block to free WR Julian Edelman against the Miami Dolphins and scoring a touchdown, Floyd was on the receiving end of a pass that he tipped into the hands of a Texans receiver. That route was one that Brady and Mitchell connected on multiple times during the regular season.
Hogan, Mitchell, and Bennett (and Amendola, who didn’t record a target) combined for just 30 yards on 5 targets against the Steelers in week 7. TE Rob Gronkowski recorded 93 yards and a touchdown, though, so perhaps the trio will have a bigger role in the rematch.
On an additional note, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport believes Steelers LB James Harrison (shoulder, triceps) will play, while TE Ladarius Green (concussion) will not.
For the #Steelers, LB James Harrison (shoulder, triceps) should be good to go, while TE Ladarius Green (concussion, illness) shouldn't be.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 22, 2017