Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo, right, talks with linebacker Kyle Van Noy. Mayo is a candidate for the vacant head coaching position with the Denver Broncos, but for now is focused on Saturday’s playoff game against Buffalo. Mary Schwalm/Associated Press

Josh McDaniels and Jerod Mayo, the Patriots in-house candidates for head coaching jobs, are certainly open to advancing their careers elsewhere.

And the opportunities are lining up, with Mayo already a candidate for Denver’s vacant head coaching job as the Broncos have requested an interview.

Right now, however, both said their priority is on the game at hand against Buffalo Saturday night. That’s the top priority.

“Right now, all my focus is on the Buffalo Bills,” said Mayo. “I’ll absolutely take the interview, but right now, it’s all about the Bills.”

McDaniels, meanwhile, said he knew nothing about any team asking for permission as yet.

“I know nothing about that, but it’s the same as I’ve said in the past. If that’s in the cards for me, great,” he said. “But I am totally focused and immersed in the preparation for the Buffalo Bills.”


Mayo said Bill Belichick has been supportive of his career aspirations to become an NFL head coach.

He enjoyed the opportunity to interview with the Eagles last year.

“It was a great experience. I was able to go out there and talk a lot about football, talk a lot about different philosophies,” said Mayo. “It’s good to have those conversations whether it’s around leadership philosophy, or team philosophy, team structure, all that stuff. So I love talking ball, I love developing people. That’s one of the things I enjoy doing. But that’s always been the goal for me … Hopefully one day, I get a chance to coach a team.”

For coaches involved with playoff teams, it’s a balancing act keeping focused on the job at hand, while a prospective job opportunity awaits.

“To me, that whole situation kind of takes care of itself depending on what the team is and what they’re looking for,” said McDaniels. “They could look for some big presentation from you or a bunch of big lists or what have you. I’ve kind of just focused on myself and being who I am and not trying to do anything outside of who I am or what I know to impress anybody, figuring that if that’s going to be the way it’ll work out, then it’ll work out.

“The time of the year is always different. It’s not an easy situation for anybody involved in those things,” he went on. “But I think the best thing you could do if you’re involved in a playoff team like we are is put 100 percent of your energy and effort into getting ready for the team you’re getting ready to play, and whatever happens outside of that, the good Lord will take care of that.”


RUNNING BACK Damien Harris probably won’t be 100 percent at any point for the rest of the season after a hamstring injury in New England’s first game against the Bills in December and has been a limited participant at practice ever since.

But after missing the loss to the Colts, Harris has returned and scored six touchdowns in three games despite limping a little and stretching a lot during those games.

Running backs coach Ivan Fears, who has been coaching with the Patriots (since 1999) almost as long as Harris has been alive (since 1997) and coaching football for well longer than that (since 1976), was impressed with his ability to keep grinding.

”He’s leading by example. Everybody’s got something going on right now,” Fears said. “You have to love the kid for fighting through it and knowing the difference between injury and just a little discomfort. But he plays the game the way we need him to play, and that’s what counts to me. It really does.”

Harris has been particularly good against the Bills. He had 10 carries for 111 yards and one touchdown in the first meeting in Orchard Park and 18 carries for 103 yards and three touchdowns in the second meeting at Gillette Stadium.

THOUGH THE Patriots didn’t practice Tuesday, they still needed to release a injury report because this weekend’s game in Buffalo is on Saturday. The team reported that everybody on the active roster would have participated, including Christian Barmore.

The standout rookie defensive tackle was carted off the field in Miami with a knee injury, but MRI “came back clean,” according to reports.

The fact that Barmore would have practiced on Tuesday means there’s a chance he could return against the Bills.

Kyle Dugger (wrist) and Dont’a Hightower (knee) – who missed the Dolphins game – both would have been limited, and the team said the same for Isaiah Wynn, who left Miami with a hip injury and didn’t return.

Related Headlines

Comments are no longer available on this story