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Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Marcus Cannon analysis

By Mike Reiss

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Rookie offensive lineman Marcus Cannon's return to the practice field today is an uplifting story. A projected early-round pick in April's draft, he slipped to the fifth round after he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma (link to Rick Reilly's ESPN.com story here).

Before getting into any analysis of where Cannon might fit on the roster, his overall health is where to start. Cannon's recovery has been on course. That's most important.

As for football Xs and Os, the 6-foot-5, 358-pound blocker from Texas Christian bolsters the team's personnel at multiple positions.

"He's had experience at both [tackle spots]," coach Bill Belichick said last week, adding that he sees no reason Cannon couldn't move inside to guard. "He has position versatility, he's a smart guy, he has good size, runs well. [He has] a lot of things going for him."

The Patriots have a strong tackle depth chart with Matt Light (left), Sebastian Vollmer (right) and Nate Solder (swing) 1-2-3 when all are healthy. Cannon would work in behind that group, providing insurance if Vollmer suffers a setback in his hopes of returning from a back injury.

At guard, the club has Logan Mankins (left) and Brian Waters (right) atop the depth chart, with Ryan Wendell and Donald Thomas the top backups. Thomas, in his fourth season out of UConn, was an emergency signing earlier in the year and he figures to be the player most affected by the possibility of Cannon joining the 53-man roster. Both are tackle-guard types.

At this point, it makes sense to think the Patriots will take a few weeks to work Cannon into the mix. They can do so without counting him against the 53-man roster, giving them time to gather more information and see how the injury situation looks along the line before making a final decision.

It's a good position to be in -- for the team and Cannon.