Return of a familiar face: Daboll to assist McDaniels

FOXBOROUGH — After leaving the Patriots following the 2006 season to become the quarterbacks coach on Eric Mangini’s staff with the New York Jets, Brian Daboll is returning to Patriots Place.

Coach Bill Belichick announced at the beginning of his Monday teleconference that the Patriots are bringing back Daboll, 37, who joined them in 2000 after being a grad assistant under Nick Saban at Michigan State, and was wide receivers coach from 2002-06.

Daboll left the Jets to join Mangini in Cleveland, where Daboll was the Browns’ offensive coordinator from 2009-10.

He served in a similar capacity at Miami in 2011 and Kansas City last season.


Belichick said Daboll likely would serve as a consultant to offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who last season was brought aboard during the playoffs to help Bill O’Brien, who had accepted the head coaching position at Penn State, after McDaniels had been the Rams’ offensive coordinator in 2011.

“It’s great to have Brian back,’’ McDaniels said. “He’s a very good football coach, very knowledgeable, and will certainly help us in a lot of different ways.

“Certainly, having another set of eyes that’s experienced and has an understanding of our system and how we go about doing things is only a positive for us.

“It can only help our football team and I look forward to doing that with Brian.

“This will, hopefully, be a real simple transition for him to come back and fit in with all of us.’’

The Patriots are set to host the Ravens Sunday in the AFC Championship game. McDaniels noted how Daboll’s addition to the staff during the postseason mirrored his own last season.

“Last year, when I came back, anything they asked me to do, I was excited to do,’’ McDaniels said. “Anything you can do to help at this time of the year is useful, whether that’s drawing practice cards or sitting in on a meeting and having a few ideas on a certain situation in the game plan or anything like that.


“Everything is so important and every detail is so critical at this time of the year. Having another good football coach on the staff is nothing but helpful for us.’’

But McDaniels said Daboll’s presence on the staff did not necessarily mean McDaniels will be on the move, especially with head coaching jobs in San Diego, Arizona, Jacksonville, and Philadelphia still open.

“I’m excited to be here,’’ McDaniels said. “And, like I said before, I’m very, very happy with my role here.’’

New break for Gronk

According to a team source, tight end Rob Gronkowski Sunday landed on the end of the plate that was protecting the inside of the left forearm he fractured Nov. 18, breaking the forearm in a new spot.

The source also said Gronkowski, who had season-ending surgery Monday, was completely healed from the original fracture and it took a perfect storm for the new break to occur. Plates generally are kept in for 12-18 months, and sometimes indefinitely.

Belichick was terse with reporters when asked about the decision to allow Gronkowski to play Sunday.

Asked if to the best of his knowledge Gronkowski was 100 percent ready to play, Belichick said, “I covered that [Sunday], he was cleared medically. I don’t have anything to add to it.’’

Was he told there was any added risk putting Gronkowski on the field? “I have nothing to add to it,’’ he replied.

When asked about the process he used to evaluate whether an injured player was ready or not, a clearly agitated Belichick replied, “I . . . have . . . nothing . . . to . . . add . . . to . . . it.’’


Eye on Woodhead

Danny Woodhead injured his left thumb on the Patriots’ first offensive snap of Sunday’s 41-28 victory over the Texans. He went to the locker room, was examined, and re-emerged on the sideline but did not enter the game.

“Had we needed to use him, he would have been available to go back in there,’’ Belichick said. “Now that we’re into a new week, we’ll re-address the whole situation, try to get a good feel for what he would and wouldn’t be able to do and how functional he would be doing it.

“I would say that that’s something that we’ll have to look at during the week, assuming that the doctors clear him to play, which is . . . that’s a medical decision.

“Then, the next situation would be from a football decision, what can he do, how well can he do it, what is he and are we comfortable with him doing in this week’s game/game plan. That [will] be determined at a later point in time.’’

According to a source, Woodhead likely will play but will probably be rested during the week.

There was no update on defensive end Chander Jones, who suffered a sprained ankle.


Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo
posted a series of Twitter messages Sunday critical of the Patriots during their victory over the Texans.

“New England does some suspect stuff on offense. Can’t really respect it. Comparable to a cheap shot b4 a fight,’’ Ayanbadejo tweeted.

Other postings included: “Are you watching the game Pats vs. Texans? If so you see the hurry snap offense catch em b4 they set up. It’s a gimmick,’’ and, “You know the same organization that did spygate and cut a guy the day b4 the Super Bowl.’’

Predictably, Ayanbadejo backtracked Monday and posted an apology on his Twitter account.

“I made selfish comments on twitter last night that reflected poorly upon myself, my teammates, and the organization. For that I apologize,’’ he tweeted.

Patriots players declined to comment on the matter.

“I have no response to that,’’ said running back Shane Vereen. “We’ll play ’em on Sunday.’’

Good company

Vereen, who scored his first three postseason touchdowns Sunday, joined Roger Craig and Ricky Watters as the only players in NFL history to score on a pair of TD receptions and a TD run in the same postseason game.

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