Connolly earns pay bump for '11

Patriots offensive lineman Dan Connolly, who started 13 games last season, reached incentives in his contract that will boost his pay in 2011.

Connolly was scheduled to earn $725,000 next season, but that salary has been bumped up to $1.025 million. The incentives were included in Connolly's deal when the pact was renegotiated in December of 2009.

The 28-year-old Connolly was one of the team's unsung performers last season, filling in for left guard Logan Mankins for the first seven games of the season when Mankins stayed away from the team in a contract dispute. Once Mankins returned, it thrust Connolly into a reserve role for a week. But when starting right guard Stephen Neal sustained a season-ending shoulder injury, Connolly filled that void.

Of course, Connolly's most notable play in 2010 was his 71-yard kickoff return against the Packers on Dec. 19.

Maybe Connolly adds some special teams incentives in his next deal.