New title, same job for O’Brien
Now a coordinator, he keeps focus on offense
FOXBOROUGH - Bill O’Brien may have finally gotten the title of offensive coordinator during the offseason, but he says not much has changed in terms of his responsibilities with the Patriots.
“I’m basically the guy that just collects the paper and puts it all in the right stack and gets us organized,’’ O’Brien said with a laugh yesterday during his first news conference since his promotion. “It’s a collaborative effort. We all work together . . . everybody has a role and we all work together pretty well.’’
Since joining the New England staff as an offensive assistant in 2007, O’Brien, who played on the defensive side of the ball at Brown, has quickly worked through the ranks. In 2008, he became receivers coach, and in 2009 quarterbacks coach after Josh McDaniels left for the head coaching job with Denver. O’Brien held the same title last year, though it was clear he was the primary offensive play-caller.
But after a season in which Tom Brady threw for 36 touchdowns with only four interceptions and the Patriots led the NFL in scoring, O’Brien apparently did enough to earn the coordinator title.
O’Brien, 41, said working with Brady isn’t exactly difficult.
“It’s a good relationship, it’s a professional relationship,’’ O’Brien said. “It’s a relationship where there’s a lot of communication. It’s all about football. We talk all the time. I think there’s a lot of trust. Again, you’re talking about a guy that works really hard. It’s really important to him - [he’s] a prideful guy - and so there’s just a bunch of trust there and good communication.’’
On Friday, Brady did not sound entirely pleased with the performance of the offense in training camp. But O’Brien did not voice the same concern.
“I think at this point it’s going well,’’ O’Brien said. “We’re trying to be fundamentally strong in what we do and we’re progressing. It’s training camp - it’s a grind.’’
O’Brien did echo Brady’s thoughts when it came to wide receiver Chad Ochocinco and how he’s progressing since arriving in New England.
“He has been very professional; works really hard in the meeting rooms and on the field. He’s a competitive guy and he takes a lot of pride in it,’’ O’Brien said of the former Bengal.
Humbling experience Defensive end Mark Anderson expected a few teams to reach out to him when the free agency period began. But a few teams didn’t call. Instead it was one, the Patriots.
Anderson, who is entering his sixth season, said he found the experience humbling and the moment the Patriots called he put everything he could into his workout. On Friday, he signed with the Patriots and participated in his second practice yesterday.
“I was expecting as a veteran to be picked up a little earlier,’’ Anderson said. “I was expecting to have a few more calls from different teams, and once again, it didn’t happen that way. I had to humble myself and went back and watched film to see what was going on.’’
During Anderson’s rookie season in 2006, he collected 12 sacks with the Bears. But the numbers dwindled in the following years as he took on more responsibilities on the defensive line, he said. He collected 9 1/2 sacks over the next three-plus seasons in Chicago and four more in 11 games with the Texans last season.
As a rookie, Anderson said he had only one job, to get to the quarterback. He said he is comfortable now being considered a more diverse player.
“I feel like I’m a complete player,’’ Anderson said. “I want to do whatever it takes to help the team.’’
Pryor willing and able Myron Pryor practiced yesterday for the first time this season and said he was excited to be back on the field. The third-year defensive lineman missed critical time in the first week as the Patriots worked on a variety of fronts, but he said he has been doing his best to keep up with his responsibilities while he was out with an undisclosed injury.
Pryor played nine games last season but missed a stretch of games because of a nagging back injury. He played in the regular-season finale against the Dolphins but did not play in the postseason.
But this season, Pryor said he doesn’t have any physical limitations.
“Wherever coach wants me at, whatever position, whatever he wants me to do, I’m there for coach,’’ Pryor said.
Haynesworth out again Defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth missed his second straight practice yesterday. He was not spotted on the field as the team practiced in full pads, and no reason has been given for his absence . . . Other players who were out included defensive lineman Mike Wright, linebacker Brandon Spikes, offensive lineman Ryan Wendell, running backs Shane Vereen and Eric Kettani, safety Ross Ventrone, and cornerback Thad Turner . . . Players have the day off today; training camp sessions resume tomorrow, with a 1:30 p.m. practice open to the public.