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Patriots offensive line honored with protectors award

Posted by Monique Walker, Globe Staff  February 3, 2011 02:49 PM

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DALLAS -- The Patriots' offensive line was awarded the 2010 Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award today which takes into consideration a combination of sacks allowed, rushing and passing yardage, and other statistics.

Patriots offensive linemen Dan Koppen, Dan Connolly and Mark LeVoir flew to Dallas to accept the award on behalf of the group today.

John Madden also was on hand to present the award to the players. The Patriots offensive line from the 2010 season included Matt Light, Sebastian Vollmer, Logan Mankins, Stephen Neal, Quinn Ojinnaka, Ryan Wendell and Rich Ohrnberger.

While the players were grateful for the honor, they would have rather been in Dallas preparing for the Super Bowl.

"Definitely would have liked to have been here under different circumstances," Koppen said. "That's just the way it works in the NFL and we didn't earn our spot to be here so we're just going to have to deal with that and learn from it and getter better from it."

It didn't seem like the players were making any plans to hang around for the Super Bowl. Koppen has the most pressing situation to deal with back in New England as his wife is expecting their second child.

While the players are preparing for the offseason, they also are keeping an eye on the labor situation.

"With the uncertainty this year guys are going to have to take it on their own at least initially and then I don't know," Koppen said. "It's one of those things where however long you usually give yourself to relax and decompress and get your body back after the season whether it be three weeks, a month or whatever you got to get back it. You usually give yourself about a month and then you start training on your own, you work out on your own and whatever appens with that, you're a professional athlete you have the will to handle it for yourself."

There are other question marks facing the Patriots offensive line directly with Light being a free agent and Mankins, is facing the possibility of being hit with the franchise tag.

"I don't get paid to make decisions," Koppen said. "Matt's been a great player and been a great player for us for a long time and I hope he continues to be a great player for us. You know you play 10 years in this league and you do the things that he does on a consistent basis and I think he's a Patriots type of player that they want. With Logan's deal it's one of those things where it's not unheard of. In the NFL there's a lot of movement. There's different coaches, different players, but of course those are two guys you would want back."

How important is continuity on an offensive line?

"It's important but it's also up to Bill and the organization for how they want to go. ... From a playing standpoint, I love playing with those guys. I look forward to playing another year and another five years with those guys. But they don't pay me to pay the players. I hope they're back but then again, it's not only the Patriots. Matt is a free agent and he has to decide what he wants to do that's best for his family. I hope he decides to come back and I hope they reach a deal but time will tell."

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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