FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — It's back to basics for New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and his new group of young receivers.
Gone are four wide receivers aged 32 and over who caught passes for them last season. Now six of their 12 players at that position are rookies.
"All of us coaches enjoy teaching so much," McDaniels said Monday. "It's different when you're coaching players that haven't heard it before and you have to tell yourself to start from the beginning and continue to progress slowly because you can't just assume anything, and we've really tried to do that."
First come the fundamentals. Then there's the gradual process of installing the offensive system.
The Patriots are just getting started with opening day less than six weeks away.
"Our offense has never been the same two years in a row," McDaniels said. "The system, hopefully, is broad enough that we can use the skills that our players have to the best of their ability and we try to put them in position to be successful with whomever's out there on the field.
"We've had to do it a lot of different ways over the course of time. And whatever that way is, we're not real sure yet. That will develop over the course of the next month."
Second-round draft pick Aaron Dobson has a shot at one of the starting spots. The other belongs to Danny Amendola, who also is getting used to the offensive system after being signed as a free agent from the St. Louis Rams.
The other five rookie wide receivers are fourth-round pick Josh Boyce and free agents Mark Harrison, Kenbrell Thompkins, Quentin Sims and Perez Ashford.
"Right now we're really trying to stress the fundamentals," wide receivers coach Chad O'Shea said.
"Obviously, the scheme is very important as we move forward, but nothing is more important right now than being fundamentally sound at the receiver position."
For quarterback Tom Brady, entering his 14th season, it's a challenge late in his career to teach a bunch of players more than 10 years younger than he is.
It's a challenge that Brady welcomes.
"We have a pretty smart group of guys, which is a positive. Hopefully, they will keep being smart," he said with a chuckle.
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