Patriots happy Josh McDaniels is back

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said he's looking forward to working again with new coaching assistant Josh McDaniels as the team prepares for "a big challenge"in Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos on Saturday night in an AFC divisional playoff showdown.

Brady spoke Monday about the advantage the Patriots will have in rehiring McDaniels, who coached the Broncos for the 2009 and 2010 seasons after leaving New England, where he was offensive coordinator.

"He obviously has some inside information on that team and those players because he coached them," Brady said during his weekly interview on Boston sports radio station WEEI. "I haven't seen Josh yet, so I really don't know. l think coach (Bill) Belichick has a pretty good idea of what he's going to want Josh to do.

"I talked to Josh briefly, but I really haven't had a chance to sit down with him. He's a great coach and we're lucky to have him. I'm excited to get back to work with him. How that plays into this week, we'll see. We'll try to figure that out in the next five or six days."

McDaniels was hired by the Patriots over the weekend after offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien took the head coaching job at Penn State. O'Brien will remain offensive coordinator in New England through the playoffs, with McDaniels -- who spent this season as offensive coordinator with the St. Louis Rams -- an assistant. McDaniels will take the offensive coordinator role, a position he held from 2007-08, after the season.

"It's good to have Josh on the staff," Belichick said Monday. "He's a person I've spent a lot of different time with, in a lot of different situations, and I have a lot of confidence in him. He's smart, has great experience and background, and he knows our system.

"I've enjoyed our conversations the last couple days. We've got caught up on some things. As we move forward into the playoffs here, and I think he'll be a good asset to our team for the remainder of the season. We'll deal with next year, next year."

Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio echoed that sentiment, telling reporters Monday that it was "great to have him part of our program and our system again."

"His goal, and our goal, is for everyone to work as hard as they can in preparation for this game and that's what we'll try to do," Caserio added.

Will McDaniels be on the sideline Sunday coaching from there? Will he be upstairs in the booth? What exactly will his job be as an offensive assistant? That is still unclear, even to Belichick, who said McDaniels' role will be shaped as the week goes on.

"I think he can help us in a lot of different ways; not sure exactly how all that will pan out," Belichick said.

One thing McDaniels brings to the table is his familiarity with the Broncos' personnel, many of whom -- including Tebow and receiver Demaryius Thomas -- he brought to Denver. Some critics have taken issue with the Patriots for bringing aboard a coach this late in the season, particularly one with the background and knowledge of an opponent as McDaniels has. But the NFL doesn't have any rule against such a move.

Broncos coach John Fox didn't seem concerned with the hiring in comments to the media on Monday.

"We just played them a month ago so I don't view it much differently," Fox said. "I don't know Josh very well. I wasn't here so I'm not really that familiar. I just stay in my lane. Other people make those rules. It doesn't really matter what I think."

Fox downplayed the impact of McDaniels' familiarity with the Broncos.

"When you do this for a living, you have a pretty good idea of most of the players," he said. "You [studied] them in college or coached them before and guys just move cities, that's kind of what this league is.

"I mean we're going to go play Carolina next year. I don't think that's going to be a huge advantage for me. Plus, their team has changed and so has ours. I don't think it's a big deal."

Fox was the Panthers' coach from 2002-10.

Denver defensive end Robert Ayers said of McDaniels, "He's a smart coach. I don't know what role he has or how much coach Belichick is going to be using him, but congrats to him."

"We'll see how it plays out," Brady said. "Josh is a great friend of mine. And obviously, the familiarity we have with Josh is something that's great. We'll see how it works this year and going forward. It's always great to have another great coach on our staff. He's certainly a great coach and has been. I've always enjoyed my time with him, as our quarterback coach in '04 all the way to when he left to be the head coach of the Broncos."

One thing Brady didn't seem to be concerned about was any potential drawback to adding another voice to the mix so late in the season.

"I think they both have a great understanding of our offense and what we're trying to do," Brady said. "And Billy worked with Josh [in 2007 and 2008]. They're great friends.

"It's the same offense. What we've done since Charlie (Weis) was here is pretty much the same offense. And I've been lucky to be in the same system for 12 years. There's different wrinkles that different coaches have. But Josh and Billy always worked really close together."

Nor was Brady worried about O'Brien's new duties at Penn State -- "a great opportunity for a very deserving coach," Brady said -- getting in the way of helping the team prepare for the Broncos.

"Obviously, hopefully he doesn't start work full-time there for another month or so," Brady said. "But we've got to go out there and play our best football this time of year. And I know Billy's committed to that. I know the players are committed to that. This is why we work so hard, for opportunities like this."

ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss contributed to this report.