Luc Leclerc/US Presswire
Dan Connolly is being thrust into another starting role, this time at center.The next minute, Connolly, a tackle in college and an NFL guard by trade, was rushed onto the field to replace center Dan Koppen, who suffered a broken ankle and is expected to miss 8-10 weeks.
And, thanks in part to Connolly’s preparation and versatility, the Patriots’ offense didn’t miss a beat. The swap of centers was seamless. Connolly and Brady worked beautifully together in the center-quarterback exchange of the football, no small factor in Brady’s franchise-record-setting 517-yard passing performance in the 38-24 victory over the Dolphins.
“I feel that’s why I’m here. I showed versatility early on. I can play multiple positions,” Connolly said Wednesday in the Patriots’ locker room.
It’s not as if Connolly had never worked with Brady as a center. But it wasn’t as if they had had a lot of reps. Still, Connolly had had enough practice with Brady that the exchange wasn’t a foreign concept to him.
“I had gotten comfortable with it (the exchange) in practice, not in a game,” said Connolly, in his sixth year after a career at Southeast Missouri State. “I think he trusted me, that I could do it.”
“Dan’s been here quite a while now,” said Brady. “He’s worked on it. He’s expected to perform well. Dan and I have worked together for a long time. He did a damn good job. I trust him to do his job. I have to focus on what I have to do.”