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Patriots.com News Blitz - 12/31/2009

The Assosiated Press reports that Pittsburgh LB LaMarr Woodley believes the Patriots will "lay down" because they don't want the Steelers in the playoffs. The only scenario for the Steelers to receive a playoff berth is for a win over the Dolphins, Patriots defeat the Texans and the Bengals win over the Jets.

Also, the AP reports Bill Belichick still remains silent on if he'll rest starters in the regular season finale against the Texans.

*ESPN *reports if the NFL has an uncapped 2010 season, three Patriots will be affected. These players would otherwise be unrestricted free agents.

G Logan Mankinshas been one of the most efficient Patriots since being drafted in the first round of the 2005 draft. To his credit, Mankins has remained healthy and never missed an NFL game. His current contract expires at the end of the season and he has made it clear he's frustrated due to a lack of contract negotiations as players around him are receiving extensions. "You think about it,'' Mankins said according to the Boston Globe. "You see other guys signing extensions, and you wish you were one of those guys with an extension. You'll have to ask the powers that be around here if I'm going to get one or not. Because I don't know."

The contract status of NT Vince Wilforkis also a story to keep an eye on. The Boston Herald reports Wilfork is in the final year of his six-year, $18 million rookie deal. "It was tough at first, but once it got going, I really blocked it out," Wilfork said. "I am a true believer in everything working itself out. I don't have any regrets. If I had to do it again I wouldn't change a thing." The Patriots might use the franchise tag on Wilfork.

Wilfork on being named to his second Pro Bowl according to The Worcester Telgram & Gazette: "As a football player, that's something that you might not set up as a goal, but everybody in the back of their mind has that as a goal, if they say it or don't say it. I'm very thankful and happy to be chosen for my second one. It's an honor. It means a lot."

The Enterprise suggests there is a possibility both Mankins and Wilfork won't be back next season. Despite both being selected as Pro Bowl starters this season, they "could be employed elsewhere next year."

During the Patriots' three-game winning streak, penalties have declined a significant amount. Click here to find out how many they've committed in those three wins and see the penalty leaderboard according to ESPN Boston.

*ESPN Boston *reports QB Tom Bradyand WR Randy Mosswere held out of practice Wednesday.

Head coach Bill Belichick has had to construct different starting lineups in terms of the offensive line. Since all linemen have never been healthy at the same time, it has forced Belichick to shuffle the lineup even if it means switching positions. "We've never really had all our linemen healthy at the same time," said Belichick according to The Enterprise. "Mark(LeVoir, backup tackle) was on PUP (the physically unable to perform list) at the beginning of the year and Dan Connolly missed the first couple games of the year and then Matt [Light] was out and Nick [Kaczur] was out and Steve[Neal] was out." Having a healthy offensive line adds to QB Tom Brady'sproduction, evident by absorbing zero sacks against the Jaguars and throwing four touchdown passes in a 35-7 victory.

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