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John Fox: Dan Koppen ‘did a fantastic job’ for us this season 02.21.13 at 11:13 am ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — Dan Koppen was one of the final cuts for the Patriots prior to the start of the 2012 season, but the veteran center quickly found a home in Denver. And when the Broncos lost starting center J.D. Walton early in the year to a broken ankle, Koppen stepping in and served as the starter for the rest of the season.

On Thursday morning at the scouting combine, Broncos coach John Fox said they were “fortunate” to find someone like Koppen, who helped stabilize the Denver offensive line and provide a spark for a late-season run.

“We were really fortunate. I thought our personnel department did a terrific job,” Fox said when asked about Koppen. “Dan Koppen stepped right in like nothing ever happened, and he was a big reason we were able to go on that run. You have a guy waiting in the wings when J.D. got hurt, and we really didn’t drop off  a lot when he stepped in. He did a fantastic job, and he’s a guy I have a lot of respect for.”

Read More: 2013 combine, Dan Koppen, J.D. Walton, John Fox
Dan Koppen says there will be no added incentive when it comes to facing his old team 10.01.12 at 7:51 pm ET
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Dan Koppen says returning to Foxboro for Sunday’€™s game between the Patriots and Broncos is ‘€œgoing to be fun,’€ but when it comes to knocking off his old team, they’€™ll be no added motivation on his part this weekend.

‘€œI’€™m sure it’€™s going to be fun,’€ Koppen said on Monday when asked about facing New England on Sunday. ‘€œA little bit different, a little bit of a different view, but it’€™s still just football.

‘€œI think anytime you step on the field you’€™ve got motivation,’€ he added. ‘€œIf you don’€™t, then you’€™re in the wrong business.’€

The 6-foot-2, 300-pound Koppen, who was a fifth-round pick by New England in 2003 out of Boston College, started 120 games over eight season with the Patriots before suffering a fractured ankle midway through the 2011 opener against the Dolphins. The injury landed him on season-ending IR, and after an up-and-down camp, he was released by New England on Aug. 31.

Now with the Broncos, he got into last week’€™s game against the Raiders when starter J.D. Walton went down with an ankle injury — one similar to what Koppen suffered last season. With Walton moving to injured reserve because of the injury, Koppen looks to be the Denver starter going forward.

‘€œI’€™m just fortunate to be here and be around these guys,’€ Koppen said. ‘€œIt’€™s unfortunate that it’€™s this way — you don’€™t want to see anybody get hurt. Just go out there and try to do my job, whatever the coaches ask of me.

‘€œThey’€™ve got a great group of guys here,’€ he added. ‘€œComing in from Day One, everybody’€™s been great. [I'€™m] just trying to get acclimated to what they do and how they do things. Everybody’€™s been helpful.’€

Broncos coach John Fox said it didn’€™t appear that Koppen missed a beat when he relieved Walton last Sunday.

‘€œI thought he did very well,’€ said Fox. ‘€œOne thing about NFL football is the tape is never as good as you think and it’€™s never as bad as you think. We still have a lot of improving to do. Dan with more reps in practice and a better understanding of our offense, he’€™s capable of playing better, but he did a good job kind of on the job training just getting thrown out there quickly when J.D. went down. Considering all that, he did an excellent job.’€

‘€œI’€™m pretty familiar with [the offense],’€ Koppen said. ‘€œI think it’€™s along the same lines of what we ran in New England, which helped. Just a little bit different verbiage and all that stuff. [I'€™ll] get out there this week and try to go from there.’€

Koppen is also entering rare air — he will be the only center in league history who can boast of having worked with future Hall of Famers Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

‘€œWe’€™ll worry about that afterwards,’€ Koppen said. ‘€œWe play with who’€™s out on the field. Fortunately for me, it’€™s been Tom and Peyton. We’€™ve got good players, and it’€™s all about playing together.’€

Read More: Dan Koppen,
Broncos coach John Fox: Patriots are ‘a very talented team’ at 4:29 pm ET
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Coming off a 37-6 win over the Raiders on Sunday, Broncos coach John Fox said Monday that Denver has turned the page and is on to the Patriots. Fox hopes the Broncos, who suffered a 45-10 playoff loss to New England last season at Gillette, are better prepared for this game than they were back in January.

‘€œWell, that’€™s the plan. Time will tell,’€ Fox said. ‘€œIt’€™s going to be a very tough game at their place. They’€™re a very talented team. They are good in all three phases. They just strung up 52 [points]. I think they had a 31-point fourth quarter.

‘€œThey’€™ve got a lot of firepower and they have a first-ballot Hall of Fame guy under center as well. We’€™ll see. Whoever executes the best will have the best opportunity to win.’€

He said that they will take a look back at the postseason defeat as a reference point.

‘€œWe’€™ll watch it. I mean, that’€™s all we do is watch tape,’€™ Fox said. ‘€œI’€™m sure we’€™ll look at it just for matchups ‘€” some of our players versus some of their players, just to see how that went. From my memory it didn’€™t go very well. We’€™ll look at it again I’€™m sure.’€

Someone who might be able to give the Broncos some help when it comes to preparing for the Patriots is Dan Koppen. The longtime offensive lineman, who was in New England from 2003 through 2011 before being cut just before the start of the 2012 season, is expected to start at center for Denver. (Starting center J.D. Walton went on injured reserve with an ankle injury after going down against the Raiders.)

‘€œHe’€™s got that experience, just like [QB] Peyton Manning has a lot of experience,’€ Fox said of Koppen. ‘€œWhen you get to a new offense [with] new teammates, under pressure, it takes a minute to get accustomed to it. It’€™ll be the same for him as it’€™s been for Peyton.

‘€œHe had a similar injury as J.D. just had a year ago. That’€™s why he wasn’€™t with a team. We felt really good about the addition of him because he brings top-notch experience at that position. We had the opportunity to sign him and we did and I’€™m glad we did.’€

Koppen saw his first action of the year Sunday against the Raiders.

‘€œI thought he did very well,’€ said Fox. ‘€œOne thing about NFL football is the tape is never as good as you think and it’€™s never as bad as you think. We still have a lot of improving to do. Dan with more reps in practice and a better understanding of our offense, he’€™s capable of playing better, but he did a good job kind of on the job training just getting thrown out there quickly when J.D. went down. Considering all that, he did an excellent job.’€

Here are a few other highlights from Fox’€™s Q&A with the media on Monday:

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Dan Koppen, John Fox,
Ex-Patriots center Dan Koppen likely to start against New England this weekend at 3:53 pm ET
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Welcome back, Dan Koppen.

In the wake of the injury to Broncos starting center J.D. Walton in Sunday’s win over the Raiders, the former Patriots center — who was signed by Denver last month — is expected to get the start this Sunday when the Broncos visits Gillette Stadium.

The 6-foot-2, 300-pound Koppen, who was a fifth-round pick by New England in 2003 out of Boston College, started 120 games over eight season with the Patriots before suffering a fractured ankle midway through the 2011 opener against the Dolphins. The injury landed him on season-ending IR, and after an up-and-down camp, he was released by New England on Aug. 31.

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Report: Former Patriots center Dan Koppen signs with Broncos 09.10.12 at 10:57 pm ET
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Former Patriots center Dan Koppen signed a one-year deal with the Broncos on Monday, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.  The 6-foot-2, 300-pound Koppen was selected in the fifth round of of the 2003 draft by the Patriots, and he appeared in 121 regular-season games for New England from 2003-2011. The 32-year-old was released at the final roster cutdown before the start of the regular season.

Read More: Dan Koppen,
Logan Mankins on his knee and the O-Line: ‘Hopefully, it feels good all year’ 09.06.12 at 1:29 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Logan Mankins is more than aware of his leadership role and the vital role he plays now more than ever on the Patriots offensive line.

Whether he’s at 100 percent or not after right knee ACL surgery in February, Mankins is the glue that is keeping the line together.

‘€œIt’€™s good right now so still getting lots of ice and trying to take care of it the best I can and hopefully it feels good all year,” Mankins said Thursday, just over 72 hours from his first real test of the season against the Titans in Tennessee. ‘€œOf course, I never knew how fast I would heal and everything would progress. So far, it’€™s been good’€

Could he play most – if not the entire game – on Sunday?

‘€œIt’€™s a possibility. It’€™s always tough. But it goes for everyone in the league. Not everyone plays a full game in the preseason so it’€™s different for everyone. Myself, not having too many reps I just have to trust in my conditioning and hopefully, it’€™s good enough.’€

‘€œIt was difficult. We’€™re still only barely past six months so it hasn’€™t been that long. We’€™re still taking it day-by-day, still improves every day so it’€™s getting better.’€

As for the changes all along the offensive line, Mankins believes the work-in-progress is coming along.

‘€œIt’€™s coming together,” he said. “We’€™ve had a couple of guys miss a lot of time so we’€™re still working on it and we have a lot of work to do between here and Sunday and hopefully, we can put our best on the field Sunday, play good together. We have to trust in each other and work together.

‘€œWe’€™re going against a good team,” Mankins said of the Titans D. “They’€™re a young defense. They’€™re very athletic, very fast and they play really hard. So, it’€™s going to be a big challenge. The main thing is you do your job and trust them to do theirs and everything will be fine. It’€™s when we start worrying about what the guy next to you is doing is when things get messed up.’€

Mankins said he’s not concerned with all of the new faces in the locker room right now as the Patriots have the youngest roster in Bill Belichick‘s 13 years in Foxboro. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Brian Waters, Dan Koppen, Logan Mankins, Nate Solder
Is Ryan Wendell ready to replace Dan Koppen at center? 09.03.12 at 2:35 pm ET
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FOXBORO — There will be a new full-time center snapping the ball to Tom Brady in 2012.

In the preseason that featured more moving parts along the Patriots offensive line than a well-oiled machine, Ryan Wendell appears to be that guy.

The reason? With center Dan Connolly likely moving over to take Brian Waters‘ spot at right guard and with guard/center Matt Tennant still learning the Patriots blocking schemes, Wendell is most-suited to the center job.

Wendell (3 starts) and Connolly (11 starts) shared those duties in 2011 when Dan Koppen went out with an ankle injury in the season opener in Miami. But this season, with the release of Koppen, Wendell appears to be the man who will get the call to handle signal-calling along the line and stabilize interior protection. Wendell has the experience advantage over Donald Thomas, who is certainly also in the mix as the Patriots consider interior depth along the offensive line.

Still, Wendell, who has played and practiced with Koppen since joining the Patriots in 2008 as an undrafted rookie out of Fresno State, the same school that produced Patriots Pro Bowl left guard Logan Mankins under coach Pat Hill.

“Koppen’s a great guy, great player and a great friend of mine and I’m happy to be his friend in the future,” Wendell said on Monday. “Being behind Koppen and watching him play for the last several years has been a great learning experience on how to be a pro.

“Specific examples, just work ethic, study habits, how to practice, being a pro is lot more than about what you do on Sundays.”

Wendell played in all four preseason games, starting the games against the Eagles and Giants. Last year, he started three games at center. He has started five games in his three seasons in the NFL.

“I think every year is different,” Wendell said. “The only similarity is that you always are trying to do the best you can in your role. You go out and try to work every day and you just try to get better at whatever that role is.

“You’re just happy to be out there and work hard each day and try to get better at your job. I’m most comfortable every day going out and trying to play football, do my best.”

There has been plenty of speculation that no one has seen the “real” Patriots offensive line yet since they did not employ the “no-huddle” or “hurry-up” in preseason games. Could the tempo change drastically this Sunday?

“We’ll have to see on Sunday when that comes up,” Wendell said. “I’m really excited. I think everybody is to get the season started in earnest, to fight for wins that count toward our record. I think we’re all excited for that, I am. I’m just really excited to go out there and just try to do the best I can in my role.

“Like I said, we’ll find out on Sunday.”

Read More: Dan Connolly, Dan Koppen, Donald Thomas, Fresno State
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