McDaniels settling back in

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The beginning of training camp on Thursday marked another step in the return of Josh McDaniels to the role in which he grew into league-wide prominence.

But although the 36-year-old offensive coordinator appears set to run an offense that resembles the one he led to a record-setting 2007 season, not everything is the same.

“The tight ends are different, the backs are a lot younger. Things have changed,” McDaniels told reporters after the Patriots finished up practice in front of more than 12,000 fans. “There’s a few different coaches on our staff, but I think that happens at every team every year in the NFL, and we just adapt. And we are so used to doing it by now, it kind of comes with the territory.”

McDaniels appears comfortable settling back into his familiar role, and expressed his gratitude for the chance to return to work for the organization he earned his chops at as a young coach.

“I feel like I have a great job, I’m blessed to work for Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick,” he said. “We’ve got a great staff of people around us, and a team that’s really willing to work hard and listen to you. That’s the only thing you can ask as a coach and I’m really happy to have this position.”

Though the Patriots roster has experienced a great deal of turnover since McDaniels’ departure, a handful of players, including wide receiver Deion Branch, remain (or, more accurately, Branch has returned).

The veteran wideout, who said he continues to work on getting acclimated to the new wrinkles that McDaniels has installed, praised the coordinator and his passion for teaching.

“I think he really loves being around the game, loves coaching these guys, always instructing guys on certain things,” Branch said. “I always feel he could play, if he had a little bit more talent. If he was a little bit more stronger he’d probably have a chance. He loves the game.”