FOXBORO -- New England's starting right tackle Marcus Cannon missed a third-consecutive day of practice this week. He injured an ankle in Sunday's win over Denver when quarterback Tom Brady was sacked in the first quarter.
Cannon was replaced by nine-year NFL veteran Will Svitek. As Cannon replaced injured starter Sebastian Vollmer, who was relegated to injured reserve in October, the Patriots are actually dipping into their third layer of depth in Svitek.
Friday, Patriots coach Bill Belichick praised the stand-in for his dependability. He noted Svitek has a solid understanding of what the team does and was ready to go when called upon. As expected.
"When Marcus [Cannon] went down, he stepped in the game against good players and stepped up there and competed well," Belichick said. "Not perfect, but he hung in there. We’ll see that again this week. We’ll see how it’s going with him and Marcus."
It's highly unlikely Cannon will play Sunday against Houston. But the Patriots have truly tested the 'Next Man Up' philosophy by starting 38 different players through 12 weeks this season. Svitek knows how it goes.
"I know he knows he has to be ready. Everybody has to be ready, that’s what the NFL is," Belichick said. "That’s a good example for everyone too, that on any play you could go from not expecting to play a lot to being in there on every snap. It’s all about having everybody ready to go and taking advantage of the opportunities and having guys step in and be able to do the job when they’re counted on."