FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Veteran New England Patriots offensive lineman Dan Connolly, who started the preseason opener at center and has continued to work at the position this week, was one of the team's offseason award winners in 2014.
Offseason award winners are recognized for both attendance and exemplary testing results, and receive a front-row parking spot at the team's facility.
"It's an honor to be acknowledged by the team," Connolly said after practice on Monday. "I had guys that I worked out with -- me and Logan [Mankins], we worked hard together -- so I can't say that I worked harder than anyone else. But it's an honor."
Connolly, now in his ninth NFL season, started at center for the Patriots in 2011 before moving to right guard the last two seasons. Incumbent Ryan Wendell and fourth-round draft choice Bryan Stork are the other top candidates at center, and with Stork sidelined with injury since the fifth practice of training camp, Connolly has received the most extended work of late. First-year player Braxston Cave is also on the depth chart.
The center competition is arguably one of the most important position battles in Patriots training camp, and Connolly's work in the offseason has been noted internally.
"Dan had a real good offseason. I don’t think he missed anything -- I mean, the birth of his daughter in training camp -- but he’s been a good participant and made a lot of the usual offseason-type gains in terms of building up from the end of the year," coach Bill Belichick said. "As usual, he’s working in all the spots -- center and guard -- as well as the kicking game. He’s a solid guy for us, always does a good job."
The kicking game?
Oh yeah, that's right. This one never gets old.