Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cannon not quite a sophomore, but no rookie, either


Patriots offensive lineman Marcus Cannon is still a rookie in a way.

Cannon was selected by New England in the fifth round of the 2011 draft, but he didn't make it to the active roster until October, as he was recovering from cancer treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma he underwent during the summer.

After spending the first half of the season on the Non-Football injury list, Cannon was activated prior to Week 11 and went on to see playing time in seven games.

"I think what he was able to do last year was build a base and get an understanding of the offense and things that we were doing and his position and so forth," Patriots coach Bill Belichick told the media Thursday. "I think he started at a much higher point this year than he did last year when he came back in October from the PUP situation.

"Of course the opportunity for him to be out on the field every day in the spring and in OTAs, the offseason program and now in training camp has been tremendous. That’s so important for him. He’s gotten a lot out of it. He’s improved so many things from where he was at the end of the season because he just didn’t have that base to build on last year."

New England is glad to have Cannon, as its offensive line is in a major transition period with longtime tackle Matt Light retiring, veteran guard Brian Waters yet to report to camp and a few injuries keeping other important contributors, including guard Logan Mankins, from participating in the early part of camp.

Cannon has gotten a majority of the first-team reps at right tackle, as incumbent starter Sebastian Vollmer has been sitting out in recovering from a back procedure.

"I would say he’s way ahead of where he was last year," Belichick said of Cannon. "I don’t think he would have been able to do a lot of the things that he’s been able to do so far this year. He’s still got a long way to go. He’s still a second-year player with not much of a first year but relative to where he was last year, it’s leaps and bounds ahead of that. "

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