Brady enjoying an old, familiar face

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Brady enjoying an old, familiar face

FOXBORO -- Of the new, old faces at Patriots OTAs, one spent a good deal of time telling Tom Brady what to do.
Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels.
(Did you think it'd be Gaffney or Stallworth?)
It's been two years since McDaniels was in New England; a head coaching job in Denver wooed him away and an OC position in St. Louis detained him further. But he's quickly fallen into step since returning.
And Brady is thrilled.
"It's been a lot of fun. Billy O'Brien was great. He was a great coach. I certainly miss him. At the same time it's nice to have familiarity with Josh kind of stepping into that role. I really enjoy him. We've had a great working relationship for a very long time. It's good to see him out there and work together. It's been a fun spring."
Is it same old, same old? Or does McDaniels have a stronger voice since heading a team?
"It's hard to say. It's so early," said Brady. "And I really enjoyed working with him in the past. I really hope that that continues. He obviously has more experience, so hopefully that serves us all well. I have a little bit more experience as well."
The spark won't be relit as obviously as it was when, say, Brady and Deion Branch reunited -- on-field chemistry being so easily marked. But the quarterback believes he and McDaniels are off to a good start.
The shared desire for winning makes a strong bond. What differences they realize will be handled.
"There's always getting up to speed with certain things that have changed, with what he's done the last three or four years. And certainly we've changed. But his competitiveness is still there. His willingness to do whatever it takes to win is still there. He loves football, that's why we get along so well."

Curran: To gauge Patriots' plans for Jimmy G, look to Brissett

Curran: To gauge Patriots' plans for Jimmy G, look to Brissett

When trying to figure out what the Patriots will ultimately do with Jimmy Garoppolo, forget about the speculation and instead focus on the little things the team does. 

Like how they are tending to Jacoby Brissett. 

After having thumb surgery on Oct. 7, Brissett was put on IR. But the team used its one "Get off of IR free card" on Brissett and he's been practicing with the team for the past couple of weeks while not taking up a roster spot. 

That alone isn't compelling evidence that he's the backup-in-waiting and Garoppolo's about to be packed up and shipped out, argued my compadre, Senator Phil Perry. The team had no other players on IR that they could use the designation on at the time. Why not use it on Brissett?

Prior to that, though, we've seen Brissett accompanying the team to away games including the cross-country junket to San Francisco. A reason? Since the Patriots played three straight at Gillette at the start of the season when Brissett was the direct backup to Garoppolo, he didn't get a good look at the road operation and the tempo of being the visiting team. How things work on flights, in meetings, at opposing stadiums and on the sidelines is worth getting a promising young players' eyes on. Also, getting his offensive teammates used to having him around is probably an even bigger benefit. It's not unprecedented to have IR players travel but its not conventional practice either. 

With so many quarterback-needy teams around the league, Garoppolo is perhaps the most attractive option out there. By the end of this year, he will have apprenticed three seasons behind the best quarterback of all-time in a sophisticated offense for a program that's as demanding as any in the league. In the 10 quarters he was able to play as a starter in place of Tom Brady, he was sensational.

He got hurt and that's not great. But any team making a deal for him that has concerns about his durability can take him for a spin for one season. Garoppolo is on the books for $825K in 2017 and then his contract is up. The team that dealt for him can franchise him if they need another season to think on it. 

I don't think the Patriots are itching to move Garoppolo. They know they are sitting comfortably with a stack of the most valuable commodity in the sport -- good quarterbacks (or at least one great one and two promising ones) - piled in front of them. They can let the game come to them. 

If it does, as former Patriots executive and Bill Belichick consigliere Mike Lombardi thinks it will, the Patriots can rest easy dealing Garoppolo knowing that they already did advance work getting Brissett up to speed.