McDaniels excited to be back in New England

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McDaniels excited to be back in New England

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."

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL


Tom Brady delivered a video message last week at the funeral of Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken, a Maine native and former UConn track athlete killed in Somalia on May 5.

Bill Speros of The Boston Herald, in a column this Memorial Day weekend, wrote about Milliken and Brady's message.   

Milliken ran track at Cheverus High School in Falmouth, Maine, and at UConn, where he graduated in 2001. Milliken lived in Virginia Beach, Va., with his wife, Erin, and two children.  He other Navy SEALs participated in a training exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011 where he met and posed for pictures with Brady.

Speros wrote that at Milliken’s funeral in Virginia Beach, Va., Brady's video offered condolences and thanked Milliken’s family for its sacrifice and spoke of how Milliken was considered a “glue guy” by UConn track coach Greg Roy.

Milliken had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning four Bronze Star Medals and was based in Virginia since 2004.  He was killed in a nighttime firefight with Al-Shabaab militants near Barij, about 40 miles from the Somali capital of Mogadishu. He was 38.

The Pentagon said Milliken was the first American serviceman killed in combat in Somalia since the "Black Hawk Down" battle that killed 18 Americans in 1993. 

In a statement to the Herald, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said: “It was an honor to host Kyle and his team for an exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011. It gave new meaning to the stadium being known as home of the Patriots. We were deeply saddened to hear of Kyle’s death earlier this month.

“As Memorial Day weekend approaches, we are reminded of the sacrifices made by patriots like Kyle and so many others who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend and protect our rights as Americans. Our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt appreciation are extended to the Milliken family and the many families who will be remembering lives lost this Memorial Day weekend.”