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Dan Connolly got paid like a starter, but he’s still looking for a full-time gig

06.11.12 at 12:13 pm ET
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Dan Connolly has become one of the most versatile members of New England's offensive line. (AP)

There are parts of the Patriots offensive line that are in a state of flux (or soon will be), but even though he’s not locked in on one position, you have to figure that Dan Connolly is going to be part of the mix in some form or fashion.

Connolly, who will turn 30 in September, started 11 games at center last year when Dan Koppen went down in the regular-season opener against the Dolphins with a season-ending injury. But even if Koppen returns to the position in 2012, Connolly will likely figure into the mix at one of the guard spots (presumably backing up either Logan Mankins at left guard or Brian Waters — if he does return — at right guard) he has plenty of experience there as well, with many of his 17 regular-season starts in 2009 and 2010 at guard as well.

Connolly said he doesn’t care where he’ll line up in 2012.

“I don’t know if I have a preference,” said Connolly, who played 986 offensive snaps last season, according to Pro Football Focus. “I’ve been playing them all and I enjoy whatever I play when I’m playing it. So whatever it is, that’s what it is.”

Even if he doesn’t open the year as a starter, he’s certainly getting paid like one. In the offseason, the 6-foot-4, 313-pounder signed a three-year deal with the Patriots that includes base salaries of $1.25 million (2012), $2.25 million (2013) and $3 million (2014). That’s starter money. But at the same time, Connolly isn’t going to assume anything just because he landed a big payday.

“No, I don’t look at it that way,” he said when asked about his new deal and whether that improves his chances of landing a starting job. “I’m looking at it as earning a spot on the team every year and just competing. The money is something completely separate.

“I don’t know where I’m gong to be as far as position-wise,” he added. “I’m just out here competing, and I’ll fit into the spot that’s best for me and best for the team.”

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