McDonald makes it to big screen

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- For an entire season in Green Bay, Nick McDonald would sit in on the postgame film sessions and wouldn’t see himself in action. He was never activated in 2010.

For the first 11 games of this season, it was the same old, same old for McDonald, who was released by the Packers last September and hooked on with the New England Patriots’ practice squad in the first week of the season.

But Monday was different for McDonald, who played his college ball at Grand Valley State. And that was because Sunday was different.

McDonald started at center Sunday for the Patriots and turned in a solid effort in New England’s 31-24 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. So on Monday, there he was, on film with the rest of the Patriots, being assessed for positive and negative plays.

For the most part, McDonald acquitted himself well, and the Patriots helped him out by, among other things, mixing up cadences to slow down the Colts’ dangerous pass-rushing duo of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.

“It was nice to see myself on film,” McDonald said Monday. “I just have to get better. I need a lot of improvement. I just have to keep working hard.”

The Patriots have been filling a hole at center since Dan Koppen went down with a fractured ankle on Sept. 14. Dan Connolly, Koppen’s replacement, missed the last two games because of a groin injury, and when Ryan Wendell didn’t impress, McDonald was activated Saturday for his first career start.

“For not having major reps with the first group, I thought he did a real good job,” coach Bill Belichick said.

Belichick cut receiver Taylor Price to clear a spot on the roster for McDonald. “It just didn’t work out,” Belichick said of Price, who was claimed by the Jaguars on Monday.