FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Last season, the New England Patriots averaged 31.6 points per game to lead the NFL. Bill O’Brien, promoted from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator in February, is hoping for more of the same, though he’s not guaranteeing it.

“Every season is different, and I would say the difference from last season to this season has been the offseason — the players weren’t here — but other than that the training camp has been going at a normal pace,” O’Brien explained.

“It’s going well. We’re trying to be very fundamentally strong in what we do.”

With the Patriots preparing for the preseason opener against Jacksonville on Thursday night, O’Brien broke down some of the parts in the 2011 offense:

• Tight ends. The emergence of rookies Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez last year made veteran Alge Crumpler expendable, although O’Brien admitted that Crumpler’s leadership — he was a captain — and locker room presence would be missed.

“That’s a guy who brought a lot to us and hopefully they learned from him,” O’Brien said. “Aaron and Rob are both football-smart guys.”

Youth will be served no matter what happens, since second-year man Carson Butler and rookies Will Yeatman and Lee Smith are also in the mix.

• Running backs. Youngsters Eric Kettani and Shane Vereen have been slowed by injury, allowing third-round pick Stevan Ridley of LSU to get more reps. Since the rookies didn’t have the benefit of a rookie camp and have a reduced number of practices to impress, they are feeling the heat.

“Any time you’re not on the field, it’s a tough adjustment,” O’Brien said. “They’re working hard to get back on the field.” Benjarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead are presently backed by veterans Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk, although Faulk has yet to see the field.

• Quarterbacks. NFL MVP Tom Brady turned 34 this week, and is still adjusting to throwing against live defenders after the lost offseason.

“There’s a bunch of trust and good communication between us,” O’Brien said.

Brady has been doing a lot of throwing in training camp, but O’Brien and Coach Bill Belichick are monitoring it.

“At this point (Brady) feels good,” O’Brien said.

And while Brady is proven, backup Brian Hoyer and rookie Ryan Mallett are both strong throwers who are still working on being consistently accurate and making good decisions.

• Wide receivers. Free-agent signee Chad Ochocinco is working hard to get on the same page as Brady.

“He’s been very professional,” O’Brien said. “He works really hard in the meeting room and on the field.”

Wes Welker and Deion Branch head the returnees, along with Julian Edelman, Taylor Price, third-year player Brandon Tate, and special teams ace Matthew Slater. With Edelman and Tate keys to the return game and Slater also having value elsewhere, the pressure is on Price to produce quickly or perhaps be the odd man out.

NOTES: The Boston Globe reported that the Patriots have agreed to terms with New York Jets defensive end Shaun Ellis. Ellis, who played 11 seasons for the Jets, must pass a physical before the deal becomes official. He has 72.5 career sacks in the regular season, including 4.5 last year. Ellis also had two sacks in the Jets’ 28-21 playoff victory over the Patriots last season. … The Patriots did not practice Sunday to conform to the rules in the new collective bargaining agreement.