CBS Sports NFL analyst Dan Marino checked in with Mut & Merloni on Thursday to preview Sunday’s AFC championship game and compare Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Bill Belichick has often said that he has never coached against a quarterback like Peyton Manning.

The Broncos signal caller returned the favor on Wednesday.

FOXBORO — Aqib Talib is happy for ex-teammate Marquice Cole.

Cole, who signed with the Broncos Tuesday after spending nearly two seasons with the Patriots, was still a popular player in the Patriots locker room on Wednesday despite the fact that he’ll be on the opposing sideline for Sunday’s AFC title game, and especially with Talib.

FOXBORO — Tom Brady went home sick before practice Wednesday and did not take part in the Patriots first on field practice as they get ready for the Broncos Sunday in the AFC championship.

Coach Bill Belichick would not elaborate on Brady’s absence.

FOXBORO — Following Patriots practice Wednesday at Gillette Stadium, backup quarterback Ryan Mallett acknowledged he took snaps with both the first team as well as the scout team stepping in for Tom Brady who was not present at the media portion of practice.

FOXBORO — Tom Brady and Danny Aiken were the only two players not spotted at Patriots practice Wednesday as the team hit the lower grass fields in sweats and shells in preparation for the Broncos Sunday in Denver.

CBS analysts Phil Simms and Boomer Esiason and play-by-play man Jim Nantz held a conference call Tuesday to discuss the Patriots-Broncos AFC title game. Here are a few highlights from that conference call

Not that it should surprise anyone but Josh McDaniels has confirmed the obvious – he’ll be back with the Patriots in 2014.

Time for more gamesmanship.

One week after the Colts picked up ex-Patriots receiver Deion Branch in the days leading up to the AFC divisional playoffs, the Broncos announced Tuesday afternoon they have signed former New England defensive back Marquice Cole.

In a conference call with reporters Tuesday afternoon, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said that the team could travel to Denver Friday instead of Saturday for this weekend’s AFC title game.

“Yeah, it’€™s a possibility,” Belichick said. “We’€™re working out our arrangements for the week here now.”