The New England Patriots have the best offensive line coach in the NFL in Dante Scarnecchia, who has an incredible track record with developing offensive linemen, especially those who weren’t touted coming out of college (Ryan Wendell is a notable, recent example). Marcus Cannon had plenty of success in college, but the third-year offensive tackle (and potentially guard) slid to the fifth-round due to non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Cannon had some struggles earlier on in his career and looked like a liability in August of last year, but he had a huge game against the New York Jets on Thanksgiving Day, stepping in flawlessly as the emergency starter for star right tackle Sebastian Vollmer.
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With terrific backup guard Donald Thomas gone in free agency to the Indianapolis Colts, Marcus Cannon could find himself kicking inside as that kind of a super-backup. He has the strength to succeed as guard, and his versatility is certainly a huge plus for the Patriots. Ideally, you’d like Cannon to be good at tackle, and he’ll start if Vollmer goes down again. Cannon has the ability to be a quality guard, and the Patriots seem to be high on his ability to perform next season as a third-year player in this league. He looked more comfortable against the Jets last season, and Cannon is certainly a super-sub OL to watch for next season.
Dante Scarnecchia spoke about a variety of topics yesterday, including how he, like Shane Vereen and some other Patriots players, is a Boston Bruins fan. However, it was much more interesting to hear Coach Scar talk about Cannon, who is an offensive lineman generating plenty of buzz heading into training camp.
He said, via ESPN Boston, “Love his physicality. Love his passion for the game. He’s a smart kid, a great kid to coach, he’s driven to be very good. I think he’s a really good tackle. [What we’re doing in OTAs with him at guard] is trying to get this guy to make himself as valuable a player as we can, and valuable for us. We have five starters and if we lose a guy we have to have a guy that is capable of getting in there and doing a great job. So we want to train him at guard, and we’re going to give him more tackle work as we go forward in this minicamp. I like what he’s doing. I like how he’s doing it. Every day is a growth day for him. He’s a special kid. He’s a starting quality player. I love the kid. I think he’s a good player.”
Cannon? The next Patriots starting right guard? It’s possible, but I don’t see Dan Connolly losing his job, even if he is a little nicked up at the moment. Connolly is only about a decent starter, in my opinion, but I don’t think people will be complaining about Connolly any time soon. Still, never rule out Cannon, but he’ll still get his snaps as a backup on the Pats line.