The New England Patriots are taking Tom Brady's absence from practice in stride.

Four days before the AFC Championship game against the Denver Broncos, the star quarterback missed practice Wednesday because of illness and his right shoulder, the Patriots said in their practice report.

Brady said last week that he had a cold. Then he led the Patriots to a 43-22 win over the Indianapolis Colts in an AFC playoff game on a rainy Saturday night. Earlier in the season, he was listed on the injury report with the shoulder condition but usually practiced with it.

Backup Ryan Mallett did double duty Wednesday. He was the quarterback for the offense and also emulated Denver quarterback Peyton Manning for the defense.

"I'm not worried about Tom, because I know Tom," Mallett said.

Coach Bill Belichick provided no details on Brady's absence, and Brady's scheduled media availability was canceled.

Vikings: Minnesota hired Mike Zimmer as its next coach. Zimmer is the team's ninth head coach in the franchise's 54-year history. He replaces Leslie Frazier, who was fired after the team went 5-10-1 and missed the playoffs.

Zimmer, 57, was defensive coordinator in Cincinnati the past six seasons.

"I'm extremely excited to bring a championship to the state of Minnesota and to the great fan base of the Vikings," Zimmer said in a video posted on the team's Twitter account. "I can't wait to get to work."


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Tight end Kyle Rudolph, center John Sullivan and defensive end Brian Robison were among the players who expressed excitement about the former Bengals assistant via their Twitter accounts.

"Fired up about Coach Zimmer! As a Cincy kid he's been fun to watch there and can't wait to work with him!" Rudolph tweeted.

Zimmer was the Dallas Cowboys' defensive coordinator from 2000 to 2006, then served one year as the Atlanta Falcons' defensive coordinator before joining the Bengals.

ESPN reported the Vikings have received permission from Cleveland to interview offensive coordinator Norv Turner for the same position in Minnesota.

Dolphins: Bill Lazor, who was quarterbacks coach of the Philadelphia Eagles this season, was hired as Miami's offensive coordinator. Lazor replaces Mike Sherman, who was fired last week after two seasons with Miami.

Pro Bowl: Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy will replace the Minnesota Vikings' Adrian Peterson, who can't participate in the Jan. 26 all-star game because of an injury.

Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson also is out of the game after recently undergoing minor surgeries on his right knee and a finger. Chicago's Alshon Jeffery replaced Johnson on the Pro Bowl roster.

Ex-Cowboy's trial: A toxicologist testified that Josh Brent's blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit the night of a 2012 crash that killed Dallas practice squad player Jerry Brown, saying a man the size of the ex-Cowboys player would have had to have 17 drinks to reach that level. Brent is being tried on an intoxication manslaughter charge. A police crash investigator testified that Brent was driving at least 110 mph in a 45 mph zone.