Patriots pick OG Cannon, TE Smith in 5th

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Patriots pick OG Cannon, TE Smith in 5th

By TomE. Curran
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO - The Patriots final pick of Friday night was a dice roll - quarterback Ryan Mallett, a quarterbackfrom an Arkansas with a checkered past. They took a chance again with their first pick Saturday, drafting massive offensive guard Marcus Cannon out of TCU, a young man with an uncertain future. Just two days after the 358-pounder began treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma (read more about this form of cancer here), the Patriots made him the 138th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. On one hand, it's magnanimous and a story that warms the heart. The Patriots take a chance on a kid every other teambacked away from.On the other hand, it's an opportunistic and shrewd business. In Cannon, the Patriots have a kid viewed as a possible top 50 pick until health issues came to light. If he recovers, they have a player with second-round value picked up in the fifth round. Buy low, sell high. I guess it can be both. And there's no doubting that Cannon - like Mallett - wins because he's joining one of the most stable organizations in the NFL with a sensible, good-hearted coach and very generous owners. Cannon will get all the time he needs. And when he's ready he'll be fired into the offensive line mix and given a chance to compete at guard. Could be a guy who unseats Dan Connolly. Could be the successor to Logan Mankins. But that will all wait until after the health issues sort themselves out. Saturday, Cannon said he didn't feel washed out from the chemo treatment he'd gotten. "God's blessed me," he said. "I haven't had any of the symptoms of my treatment that I was supposed to have."

As for when he'll be ready for football, Cannon replied, "I'm just taking my treatment day-by-day, and whenever I'm done with my treatment is when I get to go play football."And then there's Smith. You know it's not an NFL Draft until the Patriots take a tight end. They've done that. Kicked out of Tennessee in 2006 after a DUI arrest, he transferred to Marshall and - apparently found himself. He's a two-time team captain and became a vocal and compelling The 6-6, 266-pounder is going to be a Gronkowski understudy even though he turns 24 in November and Gronk turns 22 in May. He's not going to catch gobs of passes but between Aaron Hernandez, Alge Crumpler, Gronk and Smith, there's a good mix of hands, speed and excellent blocking power. Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL


Tom Brady delivered a video message last week at the funeral of Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken, a Maine native and former UConn track athlete killed in Somalia on May 5.

Bill Speros of The Boston Herald, in a column this Memorial Day weekend, wrote about Milliken and Brady's message.   

Milliken ran track at Cheverus High School in Falmouth, Maine, and at UConn, where he graduated in 2001. Milliken lived in Virginia Beach, Va., with his wife, Erin, and two children.  He other Navy SEALs participated in a training exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011 where he met and posed for pictures with Brady.

Speros wrote that at Milliken’s funeral in Virginia Beach, Va., Brady's video offered condolences and thanked Milliken’s family for its sacrifice and spoke of how Milliken was considered a “glue guy” by UConn track coach Greg Roy.

Milliken had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning four Bronze Star Medals and was based in Virginia since 2004.  He was killed in a nighttime firefight with Al-Shabaab militants near Barij, about 40 miles from the Somali capital of Mogadishu. He was 38.

The Pentagon said Milliken was the first American serviceman killed in combat in Somalia since the "Black Hawk Down" battle that killed 18 Americans in 1993. 

In a statement to the Herald, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said: “It was an honor to host Kyle and his team for an exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011. It gave new meaning to the stadium being known as home of the Patriots. We were deeply saddened to hear of Kyle’s death earlier this month.

“As Memorial Day weekend approaches, we are reminded of the sacrifices made by patriots like Kyle and so many others who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend and protect our rights as Americans. Our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt appreciation are extended to the Milliken family and the many families who will be remembering lives lost this Memorial Day weekend.”