Bill Belichick on Marcus Cannon: 'He's come a long way'

Mike Petraglia
September 27, 2013 - 7:58 am

FOXBORO -- After returning to practice Friday morning with heavy white tape on his left foot, Sebastian Vollmer may or may not start at right tackle for the Patriots Sunday night in Atlanta. If his foot injury keeps him out of the game, the Patriots, as they did in the second half last Sunday, will turn to Marcus Cannon and feel confident that the third year player out of Texas Christian will be able to handle the work load. That wasn't always the case. On Friday, Bill Belichick said Cannon has not only overcome a non-Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis before the 2011 NFL draft, Cannon has learned how to become a versatile offensive lineman - a requirement of most lineman who don't have a regular starting role. "Pass and run blocking, guard and tackle, left tackle, both guards, right tackle. I mean, he really played right tackle only his first year and a lot of that his second year," Belichick said. "Last year [substituted] for Sebastian a little bit more; his rookie year at the end of the season, right tackle. He'€™s also worked for us some at left tackle: when [Nate Solder] went to tight end very early in the season, some of those packages. He'€™s done a lot of different things for us. I don'€™t think he could have done those his first year. He'€™s come a long way since then. "His rookie year he missed over half the year and just kind of started in the middle of the year. Last year, he had a much better start to the season and it carried over. This year, he'€™s improved on his versatility. He'€™s played inside as well as tackle and also some other goal-line situations, things like that, he'€™s done some of that; getting involved in the kickoff return and the wedge and those types of things. I think his game has expanded from a versatility standpoint and also just from experience." Cannon kept it low-key in talking about his new opportunity. "I'm nowhere where I need to be yet," Cannon said with a great deal of humility. "I'm improving every day, trying to get better every day, work harder every day to do what's necessary to please the team and help us win. Every day there is improvement but there's still a lot of improvement to go, have to take it every day step by step and work harder to improve more." The biggest help, according to Cannon, has come from offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia. "Coach Scarnecchia coaches us pretty well, the whole offensive line," Cannon said. "If we need to get ready for something, he's going to get us ready for it, that's the kind of coach he is. We do whatever he asks us. "I feel the most comfortable at whatever they ask me to play. If they ask me to play that [right tackle], that's what I'll be comfortable playing." One of the things that the Patriots liked about Cannon in college was his ability to move from right to left tackle in his senior season, protecting the blind side of Andy Dalton, now with the Bengals. "They flipped him so he started off at right tackle and then his senior year, if I'€™m right on that, I think they moved him to left tackle, which is kind of what they did, they always put their senior, most experienced guy and put him on the left side, sort of go from right to left, like a lot of college teams do," Belichick said.