Larsen thrilled to be back with McDaniels

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Larsen thrilled to be back with McDaniels

FOXBORO -- Spencer Larsen is one of the new kids in town. But, as it happens in this turnstile business, he was greeted by a few familiar faces.

Denver drafted the 6-foot-2, 245-pound fullback -- then a linebacker -- with a sixth round pick in 2008. Larsen played under former Broncos head coach, current Patriots offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels the following season.

The connection could help him find a spot on the roster despite New England's recent apathy for his position.

"I loved playing for McDaniels and I loved all the opportunity that he provided for me. I'm just excited to be back with him," Larsen said.

"I think just being with Josh from the past, I think he just likes to have options. And being with him in Denver . . . he just likes to have different things that he can do from week-to-week, so who knows. I don't think any of us know what can happen at that position. I think you just need to work and get better and let that thing happen naturally."

Larsen always has versatility in his back pocket.

Though he didn't play a snap at linebacker last season, he said he's "100-percent open" to reprising the role for the Patriots if need be. Larsen is, after all, just the fourth guy since 1990 to start a game on both offense and defense (Denver's November 16 game versus Atlanta in 2008).

Yes, he was a rookie. And he also played special teams that day.

"It was just one of those exciting days," Larsen smiled. "I didn't really play a whole lot of offense that day -- as a fullback you kind of come in and out. So it wasn't 100 percent taxing; it was a good days work."

Right.

They must teach toughness at Arizona. Which is where Larsen met Rob Gronkowski.

"I was a senior when he was a freshman, so I used to beat him up in college if you guys believe that," Larsen laughed. "It's just been good seeing him and seeing the success he's had, getting to talk to him again.

"I swear he looked like he does now as a freshman, coming out of high school. I can't imagine what he did in high school. He's one of those guys that come around and you just feel like he's going to be special. So far he's proved that."

The real reuniting begins Monday with practice. If Larsen wants to work again for McDaniels, and with Gronkowski, he needs to be a Patriot -- no easy undertaking.

"Bottom line is, it's a new year and I have to prove that I can play."

Exactly.

Curran: McDaniels staying with Pats shouldn't be a shocker

Curran: McDaniels staying with Pats shouldn't be a shocker

For weeks the speculation regarding Josh McDaniels wasn't a matter of "if" but "when."

But while national media had McDaniels signed, sealed and delivered to multiple landing spots, the proposition that he'd leave at all was never a likelihood. 

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The Rams weren't attractive to him from the outset. Jacksonville didn't excite him, either. And on Monday, he passed on the 49ers opportunity. 

The lure of a blank slate in San Fran at quarterback and GM didn't outpace the uncertainty of going cross-country to work for a seemingly dysfunctional franchise that's cycled rapidly through coaches and has an unrealistic sense that it's a long, long way removed from its glory days, the only remnant remaining from that being perhaps the logo on the helmet. 

With four kids and a job McDaniels considers one of the 10 best on coaching -- head man or no -- he will stay on as the Patriots' offensive coordinator.

"I was really impressed with (Niners owner) Jed York and (team executive) Paraag Marathe . . . and the people that came from the 49ers organization," McDaniels said on a conference call this morning. "They did a great job with their presentation. Humbled to be included in that process. At this time it's just best for my family and myself to remain here in New England and focus on this year's playoffs and finish out the year however it turns out."

The same faulty speculative reasoning that had McDaniels as good as gone from the Patriots will move on undeterred today and surmise that McDaniels is staying with the Patriots because he knows, or has been promised, that he'll receive the head coaching job when Bill Belichick steps aside. 

While the Kraft family certainly thinks highly of McDaniels and that could come to pass, anyone tapping their foot and checking their watch waiting for Belichick to step down is in for a long wait. He's showing no signs of wrapping it up and, while I haven't been told directly McDaniels isn't the automatic successor, he wouldn't be taking interviews at all if he were assured that. 

What will be interesting to see is whether interest remains high in him for other jobs or the perception that he's never going to leave means teams don't bother to ask. San Fran obviously had its heart set on McDaniels. Even though Nick Caserio passed on the chance to interview with the Niners for their open GM job, the team did talk to Louis Riddick about the spot. He and McDaniels have high regard for each other. 

Between McDaniels, Caserio and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, the people closest to Belichick on the coaching flow chart all had chances to go somewhere else and all passed on the chance. It's another example of not why the Patriots are good but why they remain good. Stability. 
 

McDaniels: 'Best for my family and myself' to remain with Patriots

McDaniels: 'Best for my family and myself' to remain with Patriots

Josh McDaniels will be staying put in New England, he said on Monday, because that's what's best for him and his family at this point in time. 

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The Patriots offensive coordinator was a front-runner for the open head-coaching job in San Francisco but has removed his name from consideration.

"I was really impressed with [Niners owner and CEO] Jed York and [Chief Strategy Officer and EVP of Football Operations] Praag [Marathe] and [Director of Football Administration and Analytics] Brian [Hampton] and the people that came from the 49ers organization. They did a great job with their presentation. Again, humbled to be included in that process.

"At this time it's just best for my family and myself to remain here in New England and focus on this year's playoffs and finish out the year however it turns out."

Next season will be McDaniels' sixth full season back with the Patriots since returning during the playoffs of the 2011 season.

"I've always said how grateful I am to have this opportunity to work here with Mr. Kraft and his family, and coach under Bill with a lot of great guys on our staff, and to have the privilege to get to work with the players that we work with each day," McDaniels said. "It's a great opportunity. I'm very thankful to be here, and very much looking forward to this week against Pittsburgh."