Patriots

Dorsett on working with Brady: 'It's been great . . . He's Tom Brady'

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Dorsett on working with Brady: 'It's been great . . . He's Tom Brady'

FOXBORO -- Phillip Dorsett has had a pretty charmed career thus far in terms of the quarterbacks he's worked with. For his first two seasons, he caught passes from Andrew Luck. For the last three days, since being traded by the Colts to the Patriots, he's been working with Tom Brady. 

Asked for what it's been like sharing a field with a future Hall-of-Famer and five-time champion, Dorsett replied quickly. 

"It's been great, obviously," he said. "He's Tom Brady."

Dorsett will have to try to work with Brady as closely as he can in order to get on the same page with the 40-year-old. The list of new receivers who haven't worked out in New England is long, and though Dorsett is talented enough to have been selected in the first round in 2015, he doesn't want to wilt in a new system with a demanding quarterback.

How does he prevent that from happening? Work. It will require study, he knows, but there's no substitute for on-the-field interaction. This offseason, Brandin Cooks could be spotted chatting with Brady at every opportunity, just to make sure he's on the same page with his new quarterback. Chris Hogan, who has been in the system for over a year now, spent an extra 45 minutes on the field working with Brady following the team's first practice after Julian Edelman's injury. 

Those are the kinds of things Dorsett will try to do as he takes on a crash course in Patriots football. 

"I'm just learning now," Dorsett said. "I'll learn a lot more. I'm getting reps in there now. The more I learn, the more reps I'll get."

As it currently stands, Dorsett looks like the fifth receiver on the Patriots depth chart behind Cooks, Hogan, Danny Amendola and Malcolm Mitchell. Mitchell has been limited in practice lately due to a knee injury, though, so perhaps the speedy Dorsett sees time as the team's No. 4.

When it comes to returning punts, Dorsett said he would be happy to perform in that role if asked, but it sounded as though that's not something he has been asked to do just yet. Even if he doesn't factor into the mix as a returner, the Patriots have a handful of options in Hogan, Amendola and Patrick Chung.

Patriots-Steelers inactives: Haden out for Pittsburgh

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Patriots-Steelers inactives: Haden out for Pittsburgh

The Patriots have one of their top defenders back in action in Pittsburgh. 

Trey Flowers, who injured his ribs in Week 12 against the Dolphins, will be in uniform against the Steelers. The Patriots have been considerably thinned on the edge in recent weeks so having Flowers back -- both to rush the passer and set the edge against the run -- should be key for Bill Belichick's defense. 

Also in action for the Patriots are Stephon Gilmore (ankle), David Harris (ankle), Eric Lee (ankle), Matthew Slater (hamstring), LaAdrian Waddle (ankle) and Deatrich Wise (foot). All came into the game listed as questionable but will be available. 

There are few surprises on the Patriots inactive list as Chris Hogan's status was reported earlier in the day by ESPN. We broke down how things could look without Hogan could look like right here

On the Steelers' end of things, their defense will be forced to go another week without Joe Haden, who is still recovering from a broken leg suffered earlier this season. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin seemed optimistic earlier this week that Haden could return, but instead he'll rely on corners Artie Burns, Cam Sutton and Coty Sensabaugh on the outside. 

With both Haden and linebacker Ryan Shazier unavailable, the Steelers are without two of their best matchup players, meaning their desire to play more man-to-man defense -- a desire they professed all the way back in the spring -- may not be in the offing. 

Meanwhile, Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (hamstring) will be in uniform, complicating the matchups for the Patriots secondary. Gilmore could spend time on Smith-Schuster or Martavis Bryant if he's not deployed on Antonio Brown. That would likely leave Eric Rowe -- whose size makes him a logical match for Smith-Schuster or Bryant -- on whoever's left.

The Patriots-Steelers inactive lists:

PATRIOTS
DL Alan Branch
OL Cole Croston
RB Mike Gillislee
DL Geneo Grissom
WR Chris Hogan
S Brandon King
LB Kyle Van Noy

STEELERS
QB Joshua Dobbs
DT Daniel McCullers
TE Vance McDonald
OT Matt Feiler
CB Joe Haden
\WR Justin Hunter
S J.J. Wilcox