Report: OL Connolly returning

Offensive lineman Dan Connolly, who has started 24 regular-season games over the last two years, has agreed to a new contract with the Patriots, the Boston Globe reports.

At the Super Bowl, offensive line coach Dante Scarncchia said of Connolly, "He’s a very talented guy, a really gifted athlete. He just came from a very small school (Southeast Missouri State). However it was, wherever it was he had been before (in the NFL with Jacksonville), it didn’t work out very well. But he came in here and spent his time on the practice field, did everything he was supposed to do. He improved himself as a player and he’s a very good center. The first thing I noticed was his athleticism."

The 6-foot-4, 313-pound Connolly will turn 30 on Sept. 2. He can play center and both guard positions.

Dan Koppen, the team's starting center since 2003, is also a free agent this offseason.