Patriots

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."

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

None of us thought Johnson Bademosi would be starting this past Sunday at MetLife Stadium against the Jets because -- well -- that’s not what we perceive the 27-year-old to be. He’s a special teamer. It’s how he’s made his mark in the NFL dating back to 2012 with Cleveland. So why would that change in mid-October for a team he’s only been with for six weeks? Because Bademosi is -- and has always been -- intent on proving he’s more than a niche player.

“I see myself as a football player,” he said, “and whatever position they put me in, I’m going to try to be the best because that’s how I operate and who I am as a person. Whether that’s as a cornerback, on special teams, if they ask me to play wildcat quarterback. Whatever…”

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Bill Belichick and his staff asked for Bademosi to go on the field and not come off. He played 73 defensive snaps in addition to his usual core four special teams duties. 

“I felt like I played a whole game,” Bademosi joked, before saying, “I love playing football so I’m going to go out there and empty myself.”

He did just that, getting targeted only two times in the 24-17 win over the Jets. It was hoped that Bademosi would return to his normal specialist role, but with Stephon Gilmore still out with a concussion, it now seems more and more likely that the sixth year pro will have to be an ironman again Sunday night in primetime against the Falcons. Historically, the Pats have defended bigger receivers. That means Bademosi may be responsible for one of the most dangerous players in the league, Julio Jones.

“He’s an amazing player," he said. “We all know what he’s capable of. As a defense, we have to be prepared for him.”

The Pats were on Super Bowl Sunday and Jones still made a couple of ridiculous plays with either Logan Ryan or Eric Rowe in coverage with safety help over the top.

“He’s fast. He’s physical. He can jump. He can run. He’s smart. He’s everything you want in a wide receiver,” said Bademosi without blinking an eye. That’s the kind of confidence you want from a player at that position and facing this type of challenge. 

“You gotta believe in yourself,” he said “ I’m confident in my abilities. I work hard and trust my preparation.”

Being an elite athlete certainly helps. Bademosi was a scholarship football player at Stanford -- “some guy named Jim Harbaugh called” -- before ending up in the NFL. But it’s Bademosi’s willingness to go all in in the film room that impressed safety Devin McCourty. 

“…I think, honestly, the most work he did was probably with just himself jumping into the film, watching more stuff to exactly see,” said McCourty Thursday. “You know, when you’re a backup more, you’re kind of trying to see everything because you don’t know what role you might be thrust upon once you’re in the game. But, I think once he knew he was starting, it was kind of like, ‘Alright, let me focus in on this.’ I thought he did an awesome job of just being ready and competing.”

Bademosi will have to compete his ass off Sunday night, even against what has been to this point a physically compromised Jones. Based on what he did several days ago, there’s no reason to believe the Pats cornerback won’t bring everything he has, trying to prove again that he’s more than just a special teams whiz.

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