Brady on swapping Connolly for Koppen


Brady on swapping Connolly for Koppen

By Mary Paoletti Staff Reporter Follow @mary_paoletti
FOXBORO -- New England's Week 1 battle with the Dolphins was not won without a few casualties.

Starting center Dan Koppen suffered a broken left ankle Monday night. Koppen has an MRI scheduled for Wednesday to better form a plan on dealing with the damage, but a return is not imminent.

Sunday's game versus the San Diego Chargers will be just his second absence in the last five years and quarterback Tom Brady isn't happy about it. When Koppen -- on crutches, in a walking boot -- relayed the post-game diagnosis to him outside Sun Life Stadium's visitor's locker room, Brady reaction was . . . unprintable.

The pressure is on right guard Dan Connolly to plug the hole at center (and put his quarterback's mind at ease) as he did in Miami. Brady spoke about Connolly on Wednesday.

"Dan's been here for quite a while. He understands the system and he understands the calls. When you play right guard and you've got to move to center, you know the center's calls. He's been a back up center for a long time and he's expected to go out there and perform very well as he's done at right guard.

"All those guys have some terrific flexibility," Brady continued. "Coach always says, 'The more you can do around here . . . If you can only do one thing you'd better do it well.' Obviously those guys have to be able to play multiple positions."

Ryan Wendell is listed as backup center on the team's depth chart, but a calf injury has limited his participation. Still, even as a third option, Connolly is a decent one. He played well as a stand-in on Monday, not only with snapping to Brady, but helping rookie tackle Nate Solder on the line.

"Every center-quarterback relationship is special and Dan and I have I've had that for a long time," Brady said. "I've known Dan Connolly for a while -- he's been in there at center quite a bit in mini-camps, training camps and we're always preparing for guys playing multiple positions. He's done a good job of that. He did a damn good job the other night stepping in and he's going to need to be able to do that for the forseeable future."

In the end, Brady stressed that the team has to adjust and move on. No matter how big an impression the injury bomb made when initially dropped, there's no time to dwell. Especially with such a short turnaround to Week 2.

"I can't focus on what the center's doing," Brady said. "I trust those guys to do their job. I've got plenty of things to focus on. Plenty of things I need to do a better job of."

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Report: Butler expected to be at OTAs this week


Report: Butler expected to be at OTAs this week

When Patriots corner Malcolm Butler wasn't on the field for last Thursday's OTA, it sparked questions as to whether or not he might be holding out for a new contract. Voted into the Pro Bowl last season, Butler is scheduled to make $600,000 in base salary in 2016 -- well under market value for a player of his caliber. 

ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss reported over the weekend that Butler has told those close to him that he has plans to push for a contract adjustment this offseason.

Might that push include a holdout? It's unclear, but on Tuesday Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reported that Butler is expected to be in attendance for Patriots OTAs this week. Howe went on to note that he was given "a strong indication" that Butler's absence last week was not related to his contract.

The Patriots will hold two more volunatry OTA sessions on Wednesday and Thursday that will be closed to the media. The team held three such sessions last week, with Thursday's as the lone practice open to reporters. Mandatory minicamp will be held from June 7-9. 

If Butler shows up to remaining OTAs and through minicamp, then it will be an indication that he's chosen not to attempt to gain leverage in negotiations by withholding his services. Yet at the same time, his presence on the field won't necessarily mean that he's be satisfied to continue playing under the deal that he has thoroughly outperformed through his first two professional seasons.