FOXBORO -- Josh McDaniels sprinted ahead of his players from one offensive drill to the next like a border collie excitedly leading its owners to the front door for a walk.
Even from afar, it was clear that McDaniels was happy to be back in New England, running the Patriots offense at training camp.
"You're so excited to be out here because you're with the guys and it's a new season and, training camp, you've worked a lot of days to get ready for this day," McDaniels said.
"You come out and you make some exciting plays. You make a lot of mistakes that you have to correct, but that's the fun part. We get to go in now and watch the film with the players and correct some of the things we didn't do well today. Hopefully we'll have a better day tomorrow, but it was good to be back out here."
McDaniels was last in charge of New England's offense in 2008. After leading Matt Cassel to an 11-5 record, he was rewarded with a chance to be the head coach of the Broncos at the tender age of 32. It's been almost four years since he's been back -- he went through two disappointing seasons in Denver and a one-year stint as offensive coordinator in St. Louis since then -- and now he's trying to rebuild the bonds he had among Patriots players before he left.
"Every year you reestablish all those connections, with the position group that you coach or the offense, if you're the coordinator," McDaniels said. "You work hard to try to recreate those relationships. Each one of those relationships probably grows and matures each year, and I think that's where Tom Brady and I are. But we'll always try to get better and communicate better as we go forward through camp."
Brady's a familiar face. So is Wes Welker. And of course there's his boss, Bill Belichick. But there are a lot of new players McDaniels hasn't coached before that he's trying to get to know better. He was with the team as they prepared for the Super Bowl last year, but back then the offense was still Bill O'Brien's.
Now that McDaniels is in charge, he's learning more and more about his personnel.
"The tight ends are different, the backs are a little younger," McDaniels said. "Things have changed. There's a few different coaches on our staff. But I think that happens to every team every year in the NFL. We just adapt."
He elaborated on his two game-changing tight ends, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, a little more.
"Based on seeing them before I got here, you knew how they caught the football," he said. "Not being in the meeting room with them until this year, you realize how intelligent they are and the things they can pick up and how well coached they've been, and how easy to coach the are. They listen well. They take good notes in the meeting room. It's extremely important to both of them. They both love football and I don't know that you wouldnecessarily know that unless you were here. Having the opportunity to know them this spring and now more in training camp, I think that's what I appreciate about them."
After one day it seems like McDaniels appreciates everything about his new, yet familiar, situation.
"This is home for me," he said, "and it feels great to be back."