FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — It's back to basics for New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and his new group of young receivers.
Gone are four wide receivers aged 32 and over who caught passes for
them last season. Now six of their 12 players at that position are
"All of us coaches enjoy teaching so much," McDaniels said Monday.
"It's different when you're coaching players that haven't heard it
before and you have to tell yourself to start from the beginning and
continue to progress slowly because you can't just assume anything, and
we've really tried to do that."
First come the fundamentals. Then there's the gradual process of
installing the offensive system.
The Patriots are just getting started with opening day less than six
"Our offense has never been the same two years in a row," McDaniels
said. "The system, hopefully, is broad enough that we can use the
skills that our players have to the best of their ability and we try to
put them in position to be successful with whomever's out there on the
"We've had to do it a lot of different ways over the course of time.
And whatever that way is, we're not real sure yet. That will develop
over the course of the next month."
Second-round draft pick Aaron Dobson has a shot at one of the starting
spots. The other belongs to Danny Amendola, who also is getting used to
the offensive system after being signed as a free agent from the St.
The other five rookie wide receivers are fourth-round pick Josh Boyce
and free agents Mark Harrison, Kenbrell Thompkins, Quentin Sims and
"Right now we're really trying to stress the fundamentals," wide
receivers coach Chad O'Shea said.
"Obviously, the scheme is very important as we move forward, but
nothing is more important right now than being fundamentally sound at
the receiver position."
For quarterback Tom Brady, entering his 14th season, it's a challenge
late in his career to teach a bunch of players more than 10 years
younger than he is.
It's a challenge that Brady welcomes.
"We have a pretty smart group of guys, which is a positive. Hopefully,
they will keep being smart," he said with a chuckle.
And he doesn't want to be too harsh with a young group under plenty of
pressure already just to make the team.
"I don't want to be the grumpy old guy (with the receivers), and I
think there's a need for patience," Brady said, "but everyone must
understand there's some urgency."
He can be more direct with last year's wide receivers — Wes Welker,
Brandon Lloyd and Donte Stallworth, all 32 now, Deion Branch, 34, and
Julian Edelman, 27, who could start the season on the physically unable
to perform list.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski also could be on that list. And tight end
Aaron Hernandez, arrested on a murder charge, and running back Danny Woodhead, who signed with the San Diego Chargers after catching 40
passes, won't be back.
"There's so many different things that happen each year," McDaniels
said. "I don't know if I've ever coached one season where we didn't
have to deal with it, whether it was injuries or the loss of a player
for a year. We lost Brady in 2008" to a knee injury.
But he's hopeful the Patriots can adjust their offense to take
advantage of their strengths.
"We've had years where our tight ends recently have been really a big
part of our pass offense," he said. "We've had years where our tight
ends weren't a focal point of the offense.
"That's why I hope that the offense has enough versatility and
flexibility built within it so that we can do what we need to do to win
with the players that we have."
-- Tim Tebow spent part of Monday night's practice on special teams as
the last blocker in front of the punter. The Patriots want him "just to
go out there and take advantage of the opportunities that he has,"
McDaniels said. "He's putting in a lot of time and effort into trying
to improve his individual skill set to play the position of quarterback
in our offense."
-- Former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi spoke to the team on the
field minutes after being inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame. Also
inducted was broadcaster Gil Santos, who retired after last season, his
36th as the Patriots play-by-play announcer."
-- The team held its annual practice for season ticket holders inside
McDaniels Talks About The WRs
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