By Levan Reid, WBZ-TV SportsBy Levan Reid

BOSTON (CBS) – Nearly every week, the New England Patriots are saying hello to an old friend on the opposing sidelines.

This week, it will be former New England center Dan Koppen, who snapped the ball to Tom Brady for eight seasons before being cut during training camp.

Brady is certainly one of the Patriots that misses having the redhead in the huddle on a daily basis, but is glad he found employment quickly.

“He’s one of my best pals, so I’m happy he’s got the opportunity. He’s a great friend of mine, so we’ve had a lot of battles together and I miss having him around here, but that’s part of this business,” said Brady. “He moved on and he’s got an opportunity and hopefully we play well against him.”

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It didn’t take long for Koppen to catch on with Denver, and now with an injury to their starting center J.D. Walton, Koppen will be lining up against a defense he battled every day in practice. Nose tackle Vince Wilfork and Koppen had many of those practice battles in the past, but now it’s going to be a little different with the game on the line.

“Being with him for nine years I know Koppen, he knows me also a little bit,” said Wilfork. “It is what it is, when it comes down to that. It’s no different for either one us. It’s going in, trying to win a ballgame. It’s Denver versus the Patriots, not the Patriots versus Koppen or Koppen versus the Patriots. It is what it is, the nature of the business, and you have to deal with it.”

He’s says that Koppen’s intelligence is something that makes him a lot different from most players, but Vince warns the focus though has to be on the Denver Broncos as a whole.

“We’ve seen guys come and go and played against guys that have been here, been teammates before. It’s never been a problem, and we don’t want it to be a problem this week,” added Wilfork. “Our job is to go out and play well, perform very well.”

There’s no doubt that his new teammates love having Koppen around.

“It’s been great. We haven’t been together too long yet, but I’m sure glad we brought him in because we lost J.D. Walton last week to an ankle fracture, so he’s a guy that had gotten healthy and we looked at him, brought him in to work him out,” said Broncos head coach John Fox. “At no point were we thinking he’d be lining up as the starting center as we head into Foxborough this weekend.”

“When you lose a starting center who has started every game for the past three years, it’s very rare that you can replace him with a veteran like Dan who has played in many huge games and is experienced,” said Broncos QB Peyton Manning. “So we feel fortunate to have him and it’s always nice having a veteran player who’s been around winning for his entire career on your team. ”

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Tune in to Patriots-Broncos this Sunday at 4:25pm on 98.5 The Sports Hub and WBZ-TV. Pregame coverage begins with Patriots Gameday at 11:30am on WBZ-TV, and with Patriots Preview at 1pm on 98.5. Following the game, tune in to 3-hours of post game coverage on the Hub, and Patriots 5th Quarter on MyTV38.


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