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Patriots leaning on plenty of coaching, both official and unofficial, through spring sessions

06.05.13 at 12:25 pm ET
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While the Patriots are rightly acknowledged as annually having one of the smallest coaching staffs in the league, they also continue to take on more unofficial advisers and assistants than many other teams.

Over the course of OTAs this spring, several coaches and former players (guys who played for Bill Belichick at multiple spots) were on the field working with players. Former Belichick players have always been welcome on the fields of Foxboro, regardless of whether or not they wore a Patriots uniform. Last summer, former Giants linebacker Carl Banks was spotted on the field during training camp in Patriots gear, working with former Giants teammate Pepper Johnson. The color commentator for the Giants radio team drew the ire of some New York fans for the decision.

On Tuesday, that group includes former offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi (who has worked in an advisory role in the past with the offensive linemen) and defensive lineman Anthony Pleasant, who played for Belichick in Cleveland and New England. They joined a group on the field that included longtime Belichick consigliere Ernie Adams, player personnel chief Nick Caserio (both of whom are a fairly constant presence on the field over the last few years) and Brian Daboll, who is listed on the masthead merely as an ‘€œoffensive assistant’€ in his first full year back with the Patriots.

Daboll is an intriguing figure — a former wide receivers coach in New England from 2002-06, he left to serve as an assistant with the Jets, Browns, Dolphins and Chiefs. No one outside the organization is quite sure what his role will be — Belichick said on draft weekend that ‘€œwe didn’€™t bring him in here to tape ankles’€ — but during the most recent round of OTAs, it appeared he was working with the offensive line on a fairly consistent basis.

Longtime offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia welcomes the chance to work with Daboll on a regular basis again.

‘€œI’€™ve known Brian a long time — 12 years,’€ Scarnecchia said Tuesday. ‘€œHe’€™s a really good football coach and he’€™s helping wherever he can. I really enjoy our time together.’€

That sentiment was echoed by running backs coach Ivan Fears, who — like Scarnecchia — got a chance to know Daboll in his first tour with the Patriots.

‘€œWe always could use another good football coach,’€ Fears said of the 38-year-old Daboll. ‘€œThe guy has got the experience that he’€™s got — been a coordinator in the league, seeing the things he’€™s seen, attack the defenses that he’€™s attacked. It’€™s always nice to have a guy like that around. It really is. So I’€™m excited to have a guy like that around. Especially he was here a long time ago with me, so we’€™re pretty close. I’€™m always happy to see Brian around.’€

Despite the fact that the Patriots coaching staff underwent minimal turnover this offseason, the chance for someone to bring a fresh perspective to a scenario — at least, a perspective that’€™s been out of the building for a few years — can be helpful.

‘€œBrian brings a great, fresh mindset into our meetings,’€ said offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. ‘€œHe can add to every group in our room. I pick his brain daily. He’€™s a really good resource to have here. What an addition for us to get him back and have him help us get better every day.’€

Read More: Bill Belichick, Brian Daboll,
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