Broncos feel 'fortunate' to have Koppen at center


Broncos feel 'fortunate' to have Koppen at center

FOXBORO -- Dan Koppen makes his return to Gillette Stadium on Sunday. And he won't be on the sidelines, as the Denver Broncos probably expected when they signed him not even a month ago.
The Broncos were expecting J.D. Walton to be starting at center against the Patriots. But Walton was placed on injured reserve with a broken and dislocated ankle, meaning Koppen -- the nine-year veteran -- will start under center against the team that released him before the regular season began.
"We haven't been together too long yet, but I'm sure glad we brought him in, because we lost J.D. Walton last week to an ankle fracture," said Broncos coach John Fox in a conference call on Wednesday. "Koppen's a guy that had gotten healthy, and we looked at him and brought him in to work him out. At no point were we thinking he was going to be lining up as the starting center as we head to Foxboro this weekend."
Peyton Manning was obviously disappointed to lose his starting center after just four weeks into the regular season. But Koppen's veteran presence to step right in and replace him has eased the quarterback's mental anguish.
"Well, certainly, I'm sick about J.D. Walton's injury," said Manning in a conference call on Wednesday. "I know how hard he's worked this offseason. He and I have spent a great deal of time together. It was probably the first thing I did when I got here, was getting snaps with J.D. and quarterback-center exchanges being vital. So, I was sick about his injury.
"And when you lose the starting center who's started every game for the past three years, it's very rare that you can replace him with a veteran like Dan, who's played in many huge games and is experienced. So we feel very fortunate. It's always nice having a veteran player -- who's been around winning for his entire career -- on your team."

Brady makes 'The Hangover' reference, calls QB group his wolf pack


Brady makes 'The Hangover' reference, calls QB group his wolf pack

Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett are starting to make a habit of this.

After clinching the AFC East title during the regular season, they made sure to grab a picture together that they could throw on their respective social-media pages. They did the same again on Sunday night. 

Sporting their brand new AFC Championship hats -- and Brissett, who didn't dress for the game, in a championship t-shirt -- the trio posed in front of their lockers like the three best friends that anyone could have.

When Brady posted the shot on his Instagram page Monday morning, he captioned it with a speech from the movie "The Hangover," calling Garoppolo and Brissett part of his "wolf pack."

Belichick on Bon Jovi moment during AFC title game: 'He had the place rocking'


Belichick on Bon Jovi moment during AFC title game: 'He had the place rocking'

After LeGarrette Blount plunged into the end zone from one yard away, giving the Patriots a 27-9 lead over the Steelers in the third quarter of the AFC title game, the Gillette Stadium crowd partied like it was 1989. 

While fans celebrated, the massive in-stadium video board showed Rob Gronkowski, Donnie Wahlberg and Jon Bon Jovi all sharing a booth while Bon Jovi's hit from 30 years ago, "Livin' on a Prayer," blasted over the public-address system. The crowd belted out the words while the man who made them famous orchestrated from his perch.

Of course it caught Bill Belichick's attention.

"I was definitely aware of it," said Belichick, who calls Bon Jovi a friend. "Jon, I've heard him play that song dozens of times. But he had the place rocking . . . Maybe a little more than we did. Pretty impressive."

Belichick and Bon Jovi met while Belichick was coaching with the Giants, where he spent 12 years as an assistant. Bon Jovi's style of music wasn't exactly Giants head coach Bill Parcells' cup of tea, but for some of the younger coaches on the Giants staff, one of the perks of the job was that there was a rock star from Jersey to wanted to hang around the team. 

Thus, a friendship was born. Once last night's game ended with Belichick making his record seventh Super Bowl as a head coach, Bon Jovi came down from his box to celebrate with his pal on the field. 

"He's a great friend," Belichick said. "He's been a great friend for a long time, all the way back into the 80s and we shared a lot of great moments together, including the 1990 Super Bowl in Tampa, when he was in the locker room after the game, taking crazy pictures and stuff like that. Great memories from there. It was great to have Jon here. Always appreciate his great support. It was quite a moment. One you usually don't see at a professional football game so it was special."