No hints on the injury front

AP Photo/Steven Senne

Could Jerod Mayo be back on the field this week? No one was tipping hands Monday.The Patriots were hoping to get some players back on the field after the bye week, but if you're wondering whether the likes of linebacker Jerod Mayo and offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer are going to be ready to go Sunday in Pittsburgh, you're probably going to have to wait a little while longer.

Neither Patriots coach Bill Belichick nor offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien were tipping the team's hands Monday. Leaning on the fact that players don't report back until Tuesday, members of the Patriots staff preached a wait-for-the-injury-report approach with those that have battled the injury bug.

"It's the same answer I give you every week, just change the name," Belichick said when asked about offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer, who has sat out five of the team's six games with a back injury. "We'll put him out there if he's ready to practice, we'll evaluate him; If not, we'll get more rehab and try it again at the next opportunity, then see at that point. That's the way it is. Any player that can't fully participate, we ramp up until they are."

Belichick did hint that Mayo, sidelined with a knee injury sustained in a Week 4 win in Oakland, was making progress.

"Jerod's definitely getting better -- he's working hard, as he always does," said Belichick. "We got a few days away, so he’s gotten the opportunity for more healing and treatment. We’ll see where he is when we get on the field [Tuesday]. He's certainly making progress. It’d be great to have him back out there, whenever that happens."

Asked about Vollmer, O'Brien immediately punted to Belichick and said it was a better question for him. Not before quipping, "I'm certainly not telling you guys what we’re doing. You can ask Bill as far as the injury report."

Typically the first participation report of the week doesn't come out until Wednesday, which may keep us in the dark even after the Patriots report back Tuesday.