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Center job in New England is Dan Connolly’s to lose

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The return of Dan Koppen to New England on a two-year deal raised some eyebrows since the Patriots seemed to be content with moving on from their longtime starting center after he missed 15 games in 2011 with a broken ankle.

According to Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe, he isn’t coming back to the Patriots to resume his role as the starting center. Bedard reports that the job is Dan Connolly’s to lose and the team views Koppen as insurance against injuries in the interior of the line. The injury is part of it, but there’s also a feeling that his play slipped in 2010 before he got hurt and that makes Connolly the favorite to stay in the starting lineup.

With the status of Matt Light and Logan Mankins still unclear for at least the start of next season, the Patriots have done a good job of creating depth to move forward regardless of their presence. Nate Solder, Robert Gallery and Koppen all have starting experience with Solder and Marcus Cannon on the way up in their careers.

That doesn’t mean they won’t continue to address the position in the draft, but it takes some urgency away from the situation. That leaves the door open to focus on upgrading the defense of the defending AFC champs.

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14 Responses to “Center job in New England is Dan Connolly’s to lose”
  1. dirtybird28 says: Apr 15, 2012 10:41 AM

    Offensive line is one of the many things the Pats do good at. Securing your biggest asset.

  2. wrathofgodzilla says: Apr 15, 2012 10:43 AM

    Team needs: 3 CB, 1 SS, 1 FS, 2 LB, 2 DE, 1 DT. Only Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, and Brandon Spikes are solid 16-game starters.

  3. jacobslatter says: Apr 15, 2012 10:48 AM

    A great team making grrrrrreat & sensible decisions for the betterment of the Franchise. Smooch the rings.

  4. khadeemw says: Apr 15, 2012 11:31 AM

    Two years ago the Patriots O-line was in shambles and now Belichick has created arguably the best group O-linemen that we have ever had. Belichick might not know how to draft WR, DB, or LB’s but he can sure draft an O-linemen.

  5. CKL says: Apr 15, 2012 11:37 AM

    I was a little surprised they brought Kop back but methinks that now it’s down to the nitty gritty and the draft boards are probably set, Pats must not have liked the looks of the potential Cs in the draft, or getting one at a pick they’d be comfortable with. Kop’s a good insurance policy, albeit an expensive one.

  6. bingobrown12 says: Apr 15, 2012 12:15 PM

    If the defense gets back to average, lookout!

  7. lbpackfan says: Apr 15, 2012 12:17 PM

    Good kick returner as well :)

  8. jrfrom508 says: Apr 15, 2012 12:20 PM

    O linemen are like pitchers, can’t have enough of those guys. I thought we had more than enough last year and then injuries ran rampant. Good move, BB. I wouldn’t mind using a draft pick on a center/guard either. GO PATS

  9. vontazemebro says: Apr 15, 2012 12:25 PM

    Connolly can double as a kick returner too.

  10. 6ball says: Apr 15, 2012 12:51 PM

    .

    Depth and versatility matter with the potential for injuries along the O-Line. Connelly also has experience at guard.

    .

  11. billinva says: Apr 15, 2012 1:07 PM

    With Mankins hurt Connolly will start and guard again with Koppen at center. Pretty simple really.

  12. nfl1818 says: Apr 15, 2012 5:51 PM

    wrathofgodzilla says:
    Apr 15, 2012 10:43 AM
    Team needs: 3 CB, 1 SS, 1 FS, 2 LB, 2 DE, 1 DT. Only Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, and Brandon Spikes are solid 16-game starters.”

    CB is already upgraded via return of Dowling
    McCourty rebound is likely and I think Arrington and Moore are adequate – Moore might surprise

    Safety was upgraded via FA (from SD)
    I rate Chung a 2nd quartile Safety

    DT added thru FA (Cincy)
    DTs like Love are adequate depending on how you build arnd them.

    You imply they need 10 guys – I think you are forgetting how much chaos they had last year with injuries, cuts and transition.

    If they get 2 studs in the draft, this D could easily be in the 7-15 range. If we get major draft production from only 2 of S, OLB or DL, the tempo and production of this D will gap MUCH higher.

    Love, Deaderick, Arrington, Moore, Ninkovich and others will be fine as long as they are not counted on as critical game-changing players. Already, the depth on D looks better via FA. Perhaps Brace pulls a miracle out of his hat.

  13. wrathofgodzilla says: Apr 15, 2012 10:31 PM

    @nfl1818

    If Arrington can keep up his play from the playoffs I’ll include him in the starters. Otherwise, they do have depth but just a lot of average Joes stacked on average Joes who don’t stand out too often and get beat more often than that.

  14. rc33 says: Apr 16, 2012 12:05 PM

    The Pats D is a lot closer to at least being reasonable, moreso than they let on last year. Losing Chung, Spikes and Fletcher for 8 weeks last year wiped out whatever chance that young defense had of being good.
    Once they returned for the playoffs, their D was much improved. IMO, Chung and McCourtey are both long term solutions, along w/ Spikes, Mayo and Wilfork. And with Dowling, they already have essentially a 1st round pick at CB.

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