FOXBORO, Mass. — The absence of the New England Patriots’ two highest-profile offensive players from offseason workouts hasn’t bothered Josh McDaniels.
McDaniels, the Patriots’ offensive coordinator, said Friday that he isn’t worried about quarterback Tom Brady’s and tight end Rob Gronkowski’s decisions to skip the voluntary portion of New England’s offseason program.
“Obviously, this is a voluntary part of our year,” McDaniels said. “We don’t have any control over that part of it. And as coaches, selfishly, we always want them all here, because that’s when we have the most fun, and you enjoy working with them all. But I totally understand those things happen. It’s happened here before, and I have no doubt that (Brady) is doing what he thinks is right for him and his family, and I completely respect that. I know he’ll be ready to go. I know he’ll be in good shape, in good condition. I’m sure he’s working really hard, and I’m not really worried about that.”
McDaniels said he’s been in contact with both Brady and Gronkowski, who earned first-team All-Pro honors last season.
“Coaches are always excited when they get to have the whole group together, but we don’t make those decisions or those rules,” the coach said. “I’ve seen Rob, and I’ve talked with both of them, just generally. But generally, the thing about this time of year, unless we’re in the meeting room, we’re not talking about football. It’s more about how things are going outside of this place. It’s a good time of the year to do that.”
That soon will change, however. While Phases 1 and 2 of the offseason program focus on conditioning and individual positional work, Phase 3 — organized team activities — features full-team practices and 11-on-11 drills. It remains to be seen whether Brady or Gronkowski will attend OTAs, which begin May 21.
“You evaluate where each guy’s at and then try to make the best decisions going forward from there, whether it’s an injury or something like this where they’re making a personal decision to do something a little different,” McDaniels said.
McDaniels also said he never feared Gronkowski would retire, which the tight end considered in the wake of Super Bowl LII.
“I can control what I can control,” McDaniels said. “Some of that stuff you hear; some of it, you’re not aware of. But I’m pretty excited to have the opportunity to coach that guy. I have for a long time, and I will be again this year.”