INDIANAPOLIS -- Josh McDaniels spent the last year trying to reinvent himself.
After making few friends as the Denver Broncos' head coach, McDaniels showed himself to be congenial and accommodating as the St. Louis Rams' offensive coordinator, even as the team struggled to a 2-14 record.
It's tough to say who benefits from McDaniels, now the AFC champion New England Patriots' offensive coordinator in waiting, going into stealth mode during Super Bowl week. The Patriots have used McDaniels' vague title — he'll remain merely an "offensive assistant" until he replaces the outgoing Bill O'Brien next season — to shield their highest-profile assistant from the Super Bowl spotlight.
"It's great to have him back," quarterback Tom Brady said.
Everyone from Brady and fellow Patriots legend Bill Belichick to the team's assistant strength coach, Moses Cabrera, has embraced the Super Bowl experience this week. The Patriots made available 53 active players, all eight members of the practice squad and 13 coaches Wednesday. No McDaniels, though.
O'Brien, recently named the next coach at Penn State, sounded perfectly comfortable with McDaniels' presence on the staff. This should be a positive story for all parties.
"Josh is a very close friend of mine," O'Brien said. "He is one of the brightest coaches I've ever been around and he has come in here and done a great job of observing our offense, watching the teams that we're playing (against the New York Giants') defense, helping me out with little bullet points."
The access ban spares McDaniels from answering questions about his failed tenure in Denver and his unusual status as a coach for two teams in the same season.
"He is mostly working with the coaches in the staff meetings," Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins said. "I'm not sure how much input he has right now. You would have to ask one of the coaches."
"He has been a great help on game days up in the press box," O'Brien said, "just by being your eyes in the sky with (personnel director) Nick Caserio and (tight ends coach) Brian Ferentz, just an added set of eyes up there."
Tight end Aaron Hernandez speaks with McDaniels "a lot" and says his future coordinator is "definitely involved" and fitting in.
Backup quarterback Brian Hoyer said he values McDaniels as "an extra guy to go to" for questions about the game plan or the offense in general, particularly if O'Brien is busy.
Brady gave Hoyer and the other quarterbacks a glowing review on McDaniels, who coached the position and coordinated the offense, among other duties, while with New England from 2001-08. In the short term, McDaniels is serving as a resource for players.
"Josh's presence has been good, just having his presence around our locker room and on the field," running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis said. "He's been here before. It's just positive chemistry."