Newfound attention for Connolly


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Since joining the Patriots as a member of their practice squad Sept. 12, 2007, offensive lineman Dan Connolly hasn't experienced a media rush like he did Thursday at Gillette Stadium.

With starting center Dan Koppen sidelined with a knee injury, 27-year-old Connolly is in line to make his first career NFL start Sunday night against the 8-0 Colts.

Connolly was asked his thoughts on emerging after working two-plus years behind the scenes, and how challenging it was for him to remain positive in that time.

"At this position, I think it takes a lot of development, it takes a few years to learn the system and to be groomed," he said. "It's a little difficult, but it's just the way it goes for our position. You just keeping working hard to finally one day get there."

For those unfamiliar with soft-spoken Connolly, some quick hits on his career and background:

1) Played in college at Southeast Missouri State, where he was an offensive tackle.

2) Hometown is St. Louis, and he attended Marquette High in Chesterfield, Mo.

3) Originally signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars as a rookie free agent in 2005. Appeared in five games as a rookie, playing on special teams, before missing the 2006 season with a finger injury. Was released by the Jaguars after the 2007 preseason.

4) Was on the Patriots' practice squad for all of 2007, split time between the practice squad and active roster in 2008, and made the team coming out of 2009 training camp.

5) Off the field, he enjoys cooking in his free time. His brother Patrick was the chef de cuisine at Radius, a French restaurant in Boston.