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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Trump wishes Kraft good luck, says Brady called to congratulate him

Trump wishes Kraft good luck, says Brady called to congratulate him

President-elect Donald Trump made sure to thank a few of his supporters from New England -- particularly those at 1 Patriot Place -- during a speech on the eve of his inauguration to the nation's highest office. 

Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady all earned shout-outs from Trump. Kraft was one of many Trump donors present for a dinner at Washington, DC's Union Station, where he was singled out by the soon-to-be-president. 

"In the audience we have somebody that's under no pressure whatsoever because he's got a great quarterback named Tom Brady and a great coach named Belichick: Bob Kraft," Trump said. "Good luck, Bob.

"Your friend Tom Brady just called. He feels good. He called to congratulate us. He feels good. Good luck. You're going to do great."

Trump gave one extra nod to Belichick, who he says taught him to out-work his competition. 

"I out-worked everybody," Trump said. "I think I out-worked anyone who ever ran for office. I learned that from Belichick."

Patriots sign TE Rob Housler to future contract

Patriots sign TE Rob Housler to future contract

FOXBORO -- The Patriots have signed free-agent tight end Rob Housler to a future contract. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound target last played for the Bears but was released at the end of training camp.

Housler won't be eligible to participate with the Patriots during the postseason, but he will be available for the offseason program and training camp leading up to the 2017 campaign. 

Housler taken in the third round by the Cardinals with the 69th overall selection in 2011. In 65 career games, he has 109 catches for 1,166 yards and one touchdown. 

The Patriots may have been intrigued by Housler's skill set last summer when he caught one pass for 52 yards -- making two Patriots defenders miss in the process -- during a preseason game at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots and Bears held joint training camp practices in August that would have given Patriots coaches and scouts a closer look at everything Housler has to offer as a player. 

Housler was one of the better athletes at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2011, running a 4.55-second 40-yard dash (fastest among tight ends), posting a 6.9-second three-cone drill, and recording a 37-inch vertical leap.

Bill Belichick and his staff hit big on a future-contract signing two years ago when a running back with a significant injury history was available to scoop up at the behest of then-assistant to the coaching staff Michael Lombardi. Since then, the Patriots still have never lost with Dion Lewis in uniform.