Aside from the outstanding performance on offense last night from Rob Gronkowski and solid contributions from BenJarvus Green-Ellis, two rookies made their debut and contributed. The first is a continuation of an inspirational story as cancer survivor Marcus Cannon played his first NFL snaps after being activated just last week. Cannon came on the field for the Patriots’ final offensive drive against the Chiefs and helped power a running game that ate up clock and scored the team’s final touchdown. The drive lasted 14 plays and spanned 62 yards.
“The coaching staff gave me a chance to play and it was awesome,” Cannon said after the game. Bill Belichick was happy to have Cannon on the field, less than a year removed from treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
“It’s good to have Marcus on the field, period,” Belichick said. “He’s been out there for about a month now. He’s worked hard and I’m glad he’s getting an opportunity to play. He’s got a long way to go, but he took a step tonight.”
But Marcus Cannon wasn’t the only rookie showcased on that final drive.
RB Shane Vereen got his first offensive snaps of the season and displayed some of the speed and quickness that made a second-round pick of the Patriots. He was on the field for 11 of the Patriots’ final 14 plays on offense and carried the ball 8 times for 39 yards and his first NFL touchdown. Vereen’s debut was highlighted by a 19-yard sweep off the left end which set up his touchdown run. Vereen could provide a big-play spark from the running back position moving forward.
Marcus Cannon could also see more time at tackle if the injury to Matt Light is serious. The Patriots will be looking for more contributions from all of their rookies as they make their push to the playoffs.