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."

The Patriots have reached out to the Rams to inquire about former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels rejoining the New England coaching staff, according to Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

FOXBORO -- There’s no way to explain how football changes when the schedule turns from the regular season to the postseason. You can try and explain it to a youngster who hasn’t gone through the process, but chances are they won’t be fully prepared until they step on the field.

Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien will officially be introduced as the new head coach at Penn State on Saturday, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN.

FOXBORO -- In a rare interview Thursday, Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes said he feels “good” and is anxious for the postseason to begin. Spikes, who suffered a right knee injury that left him sidelined for seven games, talked with reporters for the first time since suffering the injury in the loss to the Giants.

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady and Wes Welker missed their second straight day of bye-week practice on the main Gillette Stadium field on Thursday. Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who did attend on Wednesday, was also not spotted Thursday as six players were absent for the open media portion at the start of practice. 

Also missing a second straight day were three offensive linemen, Sebastian Vollmer, Logan Mankins and Marcus Cannon. 

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick confirmed that offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien was not available for the team's Thursday practice at Gillette Stadium. Numerous reports have the Patriots coordinator headed to State College, Pa. to interview for the Penn State head coach job, replacing the deposed Joe Paterno. 

"He will not be at practice today," Belichick announced after a pause, when asked if O'Brien would be available to the team on Thursday.