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New England Patriots: When Will the Patriots Roll out the Cannon?

FORT WORTH, TX - NOVEMBER 28:  Marcus Cannon #61, Kyle Dooley #72 and Alonzo Adams #81 of the TCU Horned Frogs raise the Mountain West Regular Season Championship trophy at Amon G. Carter Stadium on November 28, 2009 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Erik FrenzSenior Writer IJune 8, 2011

When the New England Patriots targeted TCU offensive tackle Marcus Cannon in the fifth round, many questioned why he had fallen so far. Just moments after the pick was announced, so too was the fact that Cannon would require chemotherapy to battle Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, a mild and very treatable form of cancer.

On Wednesday afternoon, Cannon tweeted about his treatment, saying, "This treatment is Soooo long."

Not to dissect this to an unreasonable degree, but "long" doesn't necessarily mean it's not going well. Quite contrary, the fact that Cannon is able to tweet during his treatment is reason to believe he's handling it well.

It's fair to ask, though, what should be expected of Cannon as a rookie.

Boston Globe writer Greg Bedard tweeted shortly after Cannon was drafted that these treatments should be done by the end of June. He would be expected to make a full recovery shortly thereafter.

Cannon himself has said to ESPN in the past that he feels "great" and "it's looking better and better" every time he goes in for treatment.

Cannon is somewhat of a dubious fifth-round pick, in that he has starting quality talent. With that in mind, it might be unfair to expect anything—even a full recovery—from someone who is diagnosed with cancer.

With that 6'5", 358-pound frame and a high ceiling as a first or second round talent, it's reasonable for Patriots fans to be eager to see what Cannon can bring.

This is especially true considering his performances at the college level. His protection of Andy Dalton's blind side helped TCU get to and win the Rose Bowl against J.J. Watt and the Wisconsin Badgers.

It's not likely Cannon would play left tackle in the NFL. Most believe he is better suited as an interior linemen, where his weaknesses in pass protection won't be as easily exploited. He might be able to play tackle, though. According to boston.com, he failed to give up a single sack for the second straight year.

Offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia has been revered as one of the best in the game, so there's little doubt in my mind that Cannon can reach his full potential no matter what position he plays, or even as a "swing man" to play multiple positions as a rotational back-up.

The Patriots will likely have Logan Mankins around for at least one more year. The situation on the interior of the line isn't dire yet, with Dan Connolly proving himself more than capable of starting if need be.

ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss also has a great point.

One final option on the table is that the team could consider starting him on the physically unable to perform list, saving a roster spot with 2012 in mind, somewhat similar to how the team approached receiver Brandon Tate after selecting him in the third round of the 2009 draft.

Let him recover fully, learn from some great offensive linemen, and maybe fill in if an injury creates a pressing need. History has shown this method works for the Patriots. That's how Sebastian Vollmer came to where he is now—he filled in at left tackle and at right guard in 2009 when Matt Light and Steve Neal went down with injuries. Now, he's in line to start at right tackle for the foreseeable future.

The opportunity for Cannon to come in and make an impact will occur at some point, so why rush him out there? There's plenty of time to find out where he's most comfortable most effective on the Patriots offensive line.


Erik Frenz is the co-host of the PatsPropaganda and Frenz podcast. Follow Erik on Twitter @erikfrenz.

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