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Connolly back in the fold

Posted by Greg A. Bedard  March 15, 2012 06:16 PM

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The Patriots have re-signed center/guard Dan Connolly, according to a league source.

It's not immediately known whether or not this signals the end of Dan Koppen's nine-year run with the Patriots, but Connolly was looking for starting money after playing well in 13 games (11 starts) last season after Koppen went on injured reserve.

Koppen, a fifth-round pick out of Boston College in 2003, started the last two Super Bowls the Patriots won -- XXXVIII and XXXIX against the Panthers and Eagles, respectively. Koppen, was voted second-team All Pro in 2007, was lost for the 2011 season after sustaining a left ankle injury in the opening game against Miami.

Connolly, 29, missed the better part of four games last season with a groin injury. He originally came to the Patriots in 2007 when he was signed to the practice squad. He started 24 games the previous two seasons. In 2010 he filled in for Logan Mankins (holdout) at left guard, and then Stephen Neal (shoulder injury) at right guard.

The Patriots let both Connolly and Koppen, 32, become free agents, and the Patriots were negotiating with both to find the best deal. But they preferred to move forward with Connolly because he's younger.

Ultimately, we'll have to see what the financials are to see how committed the Patriots are to Connolly.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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