McDaniels working on passing game process

McDaniels working on passing game process
June 4, 2013, 3:15 pm
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FOXBORO -- There's been some turnover in New England's receiving corps. Just a bit.

Deion Branch: Gone. Wes Welker: Gone. Brandon Lloyd: Gone. Donte' Stallworth: Gone.

Who does that leave for quarterback Tom Brady? Julian Edelman, Kamar Aiken, and Matthew Slater. Not exactly an experienced bunch.

Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is currently working with eight new receivers, including five rookies, during OTAs. He can't put the plan on autopilot, to say the least.

But McDaniels has dealt with serious roster revamping before, in 2007. That season New England cast off Troy Brown, Reche Caldwell, Bam Childress, Doug Gabriel, and Chad Jackson to bring in Jabar Gaffney, Randy Moss, Donte' Stallworth, Kelley Washington, and Welker.

What did he learn? A stable of receiving mainstays wouldn't have changed the offseason program much.

"We have to take the same approach [each year]," McDaniels said. "We have to go back and establish a foundation. We have to teach them what we believe in and what our system is all about. And that happened back in 2007, but it happened in '06 … it happened in subsequent years with subsequent players in different positions. Our mode and our approach doesn't really change. We still go back and teach them from A to Z. Whether they know it already or not, they're going to hear it again."

Every single player is learning in early June. Not just rookies like Aaron Dobson, not just veterans new to the Patriots system like Michael Jenkins, but even Brady. Especially Brady. His relationships with the receivers are crucial.

Much has already been made of how former Rams receiver Danny Amendola will step into the well-worn cleats of Welker -- Brady's former favorite target.

McDaniels is optimistic. He was the offensive coordinator for St. Louis in 2011 when Amendola was there and believes their time together during training camp will translate well.

"I think any time you have a foundation in the system, it helps any player kind of get going," McDaniels said. "Some of the things that he went through in St. Louis, he didn't have to go through again when he came here, which I think helps the process."

It is still, of course, a process.

"We are new," McDaniels continued. "We change every year, we change things up. We've got a new quarterback for him that he's never really played with and some new players that he's working in tandem with, too. So it's been an interesting start for those two guys because they're both in different places, but they're trying to work hard and get better every day."

Good thing expectations are relatively low this time of year. The team will continue to chug along, meeting next week for a three-day mini-camp, until July. That's when training camp begins. That's when the positional battles ramp up and the roster gets cut down.

But until then …

"Every week, whether it's during the season or the offseason, there's things we're going to make mistakes on and learn from," McDaniels explained. "I don't ever think you're going to go into a game thinking that you're not going to have something come up that you need to fix and adjust, and that's what we're going through right now."