FOXBORO -- Tully Banta-Cain's absence from practice on Friday was not injury related and he is probable for this Sunday's game against the Browns in Cleveland. Meanwhile, running back Fred Taylor will miss his fifth straight game while safety Jarrad Page missed his second straight. Both have been ruled out. Linebacker Brandon Spikes was limited with a knee issue but is listed as probable. Deion Branch, Pat Chung and Matt Slater are all questionable for Sunday. 


FOXBORO -- In a week that has featured the trash-talking episodes between Kevin Garnett and Charlie Villanueva of the Pistons and Andrew Bogut of the Bucks, Patriots receiver said Friday he would much prefer letting his play on the field do the talking.


FOXBORO -- The NFL fined Patriots defensive lineman Myron Pryor $7,500 for his hit on Brett Favre, resulting in eight stitches under the quarterback's helmet. 


Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports football insider Peter King made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Friday. In the current issue of Sports Illustrated, King named Tom Brady his midseason MVP but listed Peyton Manning as his All-Pro quarterback.


FOXBORO -- Logan Mankins participated in his third straight practice on Friday as he continues to get back in playing shape. Patriots coach Bill Belichick did not make any commitment one way or the other as to his availability on Sunday in Cleveland and said the former Pro Bowl left guard is making progress. 


FOXBORO -- Linebacker Tully Banta-Cain was not spotted for the open portion of Patriots practice on Friday at Gillette Stadium. Banta-Cain was not listed on the injury report on Wednesday or Thursday. 


Also missing practice outdoors on the main stadium field were running back Fred Taylor, who is expected to miss his fifth straight game with a toe injury, and safety Jarrad Page, out with a calf injury. Page didn't play last week against Minnesota. 


ESPN's Adam Schefter made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show as part of WEEI's Patriot Friday. Schefter is predicting the Browns will upset the Patriots on Sunday.


Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning as part of WEEI's Patriots Friday. With the Patriots set to meet the lowly Browns on Sunday, Mayo was asked if Bill Belichick's rivalry with Eric Mangini has been used as motivation.


"We haven't really talked about Eric Mangini at all, to be honest with you," Mayo said. "It's just about how they beat the Saints, how they're a good team, how they have a great running attack. We need to go out and win this game."


FOXBORO — Even for a franchise historically accustomed to chaos, it’s been an extraordinary season.

One man's Week 9 NFL picks ...

New Orleans (-6.5) over CAROLINA