The Patriots are expected to hire Josh McDaniels as an offensive assistant who will join the team as a coach for the upcoming playoffs and then become offensive coordinator in 2012, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. McDaniels, who was New England's offensive coordinator from 2006 through 2008 before departing for a head coaching job with the Broncos, was offensive coordinator for the Rams last season. McDaniels will replace outgoing offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, who will become head coach at Penn State at the end of New England's postseason run.

Penn State made it official on Friday night, announcing that Bill O’Brien had become the 15th coach in the history of the program. O’Brien, who was the Patriots offensive coordinator and has been a part of New England’s coaching staff since the 2007 season, will be formally announced at a news conference late Saturday morning.

Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien has landed in Pennsylvania, according to multiple reports, and everything seems to indicate he will be named the new head coach at Penn State sooner rather than later. According to StateCollege.com, around 4 p.m. on Friday, an airplane departed for Laurence G. Hanscom Field Airport in Bedford and returned to University Park Airport in Pennsylvania around 6:45 p.m.

Bill O'Brien is expected to officially be named head coach at Penn State this weekend, but will also serve as Patriots offensive coordinator throughout the playoffs. Charlie Weis, now the head coach at Kansas, pulled off the same double duty in 2004 after being named head coach at Notre Dame.

The Patriots have received permission to talk with Rams offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, and will speak with him this weekend, according to Albert Breer of the NFL Network. McDaniels, who was the Patriots offensive coordinator for three seasons before leaving to become the head coach in Denver, was the OC with the Rams last season. New England would likely eye McDaniels as a replacement for Bill O'Brien, who will be leaving to become the head coach at Penn State at the end of the season.

FOXBORO -- Rob Gronkowski set two new NFL records for tight ends in 2011 while Wes Welker led the NFL in receptions with 122. Both were recognized as first-team All-Pro, as announced by the Associated Press on Friday. 

Gronkowski had the greatest statistical season of any tight end in NFL history, catching a record 17 touchdowns while rushing for another. His 1,327 yards were 17 more than Jimmy Graham of the Saints. 

Sports Illustrated NFL columnist Peter King made his weekly appearance on the Mut & Merloni show Friday morning, with the main topics of discussion Bill O'Brien's expected departure for Penn State and who the Patriots might hire to replace him.

King said he does not know O'Brien personally, but he does not envy the challenge he'd face at Penn State.

FOXBORO -- Patriots owner Robert Kraft has been assured by Bill O'Brien that he will finish his tenure as Patriots offensive coordinator, staying on for as long as the team is alive in the playoffs, according to a report in Friday's online edition of the Boston Herald.

Kraft and coach Bill Belichick were informed by O'Brien that he would accept the job as Penn State's next football coach, replacing Joe Paterno as the full time coach starting in 2012.

According to Sports Illustrated's Peter King, who will appear on Mut & Merloni at noon, the Rams will not stand in the way of Josh McDaniels leaving for another job. McDaniels joined the Rams after being fired as Broncos coach and is under contract, but King tweeted that the team "won't hold him to his contract."

McDaniels is rumored to be a candidate to replace Billy O'Brien, who is expected to be named Penn State coach Saturday.

NFL Network analyst Michael Lombardi made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning. The big news in New England is that Patriots offensive coordinator Billy O'Brien reportedly will become the next head coach at Penn State.

"I do think in his heart he's a college coach," Lombardi said. "He loves college football."