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Champs hire within

The Patriots yesterday looked within to fill their vacant quarterbacks coach position, naming defensive assistant Josh McDaniels to replace John Hufnagel.

McDaniels, a Canton, Ohio, native, was a former high school quarterback and kicker and attended John Carroll University, where he was a star wide receiver. In 1999, he started his coaching career as a graduate assistant on Nick Saban's Michigan State staff and then joined the Patriots in 2001 as a personnel assistant in the scouting department. His duties included film breakdown and scouting preparations for the defensive staff. His role has expanded each year.

"Josh has been a valuable asset to our defensive coaching staff for much of the past three seasons," said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. "Now we look forward to his contributions on offense."

The Patriots have employed three quarterback coaches in the past four years. Dick Rehbein died just prior to the team's 2001 Super Bowl season. After a year in which offensive coordinator Charlie Weis and Belichick worked with the quarterbacks, Hufnagel was hired off of Tom Coughlin's Jacksonville staff after the 2002 season. Hufnagel recently was named offensive coordinator for the New York Giants.

Drawing interest

Free agent Ted Washington already has received two preliminary inquiries, from the Oakland Raiders and the Washington Redskins, which both play a 4-3 scheme, according to his agent, Angelo Wright. The Bay Area-based agent said he will not come down from the three-year, $8 million deal (which included a signing bonus in the $3 million-$4 million range) that he proposed to the Patriots in November. Former Patriots outside linebackers coach Rob Ryan, recently named defensive coordinator of the Raiders, is said to have interest in Washington. Ryan is expected to convert to more of a "46" defense made famous by his father, Buddy.

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