Belichick tries to bore down the storylines

The Patriots and Vikings are filled with plenty of intriguing storylines, but Bill Belichick is keeping his reaction as stale as ever. The Patriots coach is unfazed with facing Randy Moss, Brad Childress' comments and Brett Favre's injuries.

Call him a cynic, but coach Bill Belichick is certain Brett Favre will be in the starting lineup Sunday despite what the injury report suggests.

"If he can't play and he's out then I guess they'll put him on injured reserve," Belichick said. "If he's on their roster, then we'll prepare for him."

Favre has started 291 consecutive games, which is an NFL record, but his status is in doubt this weekend as the New England Patriots prepare to host the Minnesota Vikings on Halloween at Gillette Stadium.

Favre is suffering from a stress fracture in his ankle and hasn't been practicing this week, though he said he's willing to "give it a try" Sunday, not because he wants to keep his streak alive, but because he wants to lead Minnesota to a much-needed win.

Consider this just one part of what will be an epic soap opera throughout the week, beginning with Favre's status and continuing with the controversy surrounding Vikings coach Brad Childress, who called the Patriots the best "sign-stealing" team in the NFL. Only the Jets usually bring this much excitement.

"Right now we're just trying to focus on the Vikings, get ready to go and play them. We're not really worried about other games that happened in the past or any later ones that are coming up on the schedule," Belichick said when asked about Childress' comments.

"We're just getting ready for Minnesota and that will consume a lot of energy and time right there. That's plenty to work on."

In case Favre and Childress don't add enough juice, how about the return of Randy Moss? This will be Moss' first game in Foxborough since the Patriots traded him to Minnesota on Oct. 6. Surely, Moss will have something to prove against the team that didn't think he was good enough to keep around, or good enough to sign to a long-term contract extension.

However, Moss is just part of the problem when it comes to defending the Vikings.

"They use a lot of different people on offense," Belichick said. "They have a lot of depth at their skill positions. They play all three tight ends and all five receivers that are active. They have a lot of different personnel combinations out there. He's out there most of the time.

"Randy looks like Randy. He's a big weapon for them. He can do a lot of things. They used him probably a little bit less in that first game against the Jets, but he got plenty of action last week, even in the two-minute and things like that. He didn't play as much against the Jets in that situation, but he's out there most of the time."

SERIES HISTORY: 11th regular-season meeting. Patriots lead series, 6-4. This is the first time these two teams have played since 2006, a 31-7 win by New England at the Metrodome. Minnesota has not played at Gillette Stadium since 2002. The Patriots won that game, 24-17, and have won four of the last six meetings between the two teams dating back to 1991.

BY THE NUMBERS: 77 — The number of total tackles by LB Jerod Mayo. He is on pace to finish the season with 205 tackles. That number would be the highest since LB Steve Nelson had 207 tackles in 1984.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Of course. He's started 8,000 games, hasn't he?" — Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on whether or not he thinks Brett Favre will play Sunday.

NOTES

The Patriots haven't made any major roster changes since their return from San Diego, nor are they expected to in the next few days.

Injuries at running back have forced them to overuse BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead, while the trade of Randy Moss to Minnesota has forced the tight ends into more of an expanded role.

Clearly, the offense is still adjusting to life without Moss, though the chemistry between Tom Brady and Deion Branch is as strong as it's ever been. Minnesota's defense is ranked among the top 10 in the league, so this could be another tough week in terms of moving the ball and chewing up chunks of yardage.

  • DL Mike Wright was credited with a five-yard sack in the fourth quarter for his third straight game with a sack. The last Patriots player to go at least three consecutive games with a sack was in 2008 when Richard Seymour had 3.5 sacks in a four-game stretch.

  • Rookie DL Brandon Deaderick made his second consecutive start and had his second straight game with a sack. He was credited with a six-yard sack of QB Philip Rivers at the end of the third quarter to force San Diego into a third-and-long situation.

  • S Jarrad Page was not on the field during the media portion of practice Wednesday. Page has been nursing a leg injury.

  • NT Vince Wilfork was also unavailable during the media portion of Wednesday's practice. There is no immediate word on his condition, nor any timetable on his return to the practice field.

  • RB Fred Taylor is still missing practice time. Taylor hasn't played in three weeks and may be unavailable Sunday as well as he continues to battle a toe injury.


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