Patriots' Morris back in the saddle


Patriots' Morris back in the saddle

By Tom E. Curran Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
The Patriots have agreed to terms with veteran running back Sammy Morris. Wow. What a frenzy. While much ofthe post-lockout NFL is going batcrap crazy trying to fill their rosters and get squatter's rights on prized free agents, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has been channeling Bill Slowsky. Wednesday afternoon, news of their first free agent acquisition was broken by Mark Slough, agent for Sammy Morris. He tweeted that Morris is returning to the team. Blink. Blink. The 34-year-old Morris is now almost a full-time special teamer. He's carried 93 times over the past two seasons and started five of the 28 games he's played. How does this impact the running back depth chart? Not too profoundly. The lead back is BenJarvus Green-Ellis, the changeup back is Danny Woodhead. Rookie Shane Vereen becomes a hybrid of the two who can fill either role and rookie Stevan Ridley is more of a between-the-tackles guy. Thomas Clayton is a down-the-roster guy trying to establish a role. Morris probably doesn't supplant anybody and, just because he's re-signed, that likely doesn't guarantee him a spot. Why keep a 34-year-old special teamer - no matter how professional he is - and let a young guy get away by trying to put him on the practice squad?No news yet on Kevin Faulk, who is also a free agent.
Tom E. Curran can be reached at Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran.

Not a lot of talk about Cannon this season, and that's a good thing for Patriots


Not a lot of talk about Cannon this season, and that's a good thing for Patriots

Marcus Cannon has had his run as a piñata. The Patriots offensive lineman is a frequent target when things go wrong up front and, usually, he’s deserved it.

A bit of anecdotal evidence? 

Sunday, I tweeted that every time I watched Cannon, he was making another good play.

On cue, about 10 tweets came back at me with variations of “Keep watching him!”

I asked Bill Belichick if he agreed with the layman’s assessment that Cannon’s playing well.

“I think Marcus [Cannon] has done a good job for us for quite a while,” Belichick began. “I mean he’s stepped in for Sebastian [Vollmer] and then last year when Nate [Solder] was out [and he substituted] for Nate. He has played a lot of good football for us.

“We extended our agreement with him off of his rookie contract which I think speaks to the fact that we want him on the team and we like what he’s doing and so forth and he’s continued to I’d say show with his performance [that he has] validated the confidence that we have in him.”

Cannon’s ending to 2015 – a poor performance (along with the rest of the line) against the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game was followed by a performance against the Cardinals that was marred by late-game holding calls.

But with Sebastian Vollmer injured (and still injured) it was sink or swim with Cannon which had plenty of people rolling their eyes.

But – as I said – every time I see Cannon, he’s either holding off a defensive end in pass protection, steamrolling downfield in the running game or making really athletic second-level or cut blocks in the screen game.

“Like every player, as they gain more experience they do get better,” said Belichick. “I think our offensive line’s certainly improved over the course of the year and playing with more consistency than we did last year. But there’s always room for improvement and the continuity that we’ve had there since (right guard) Shaq [Mason] has gotten in the last few weeks – we had Shaq over on the right side a little bit at the end of the season last year and then this year most all of the year except when Shaq was out for a few weeks there at the end of training camp and the start of the season – but our overall consistency and communication on the offensive line has been better because we’ve had more continuity there so that helps everybody.”

It can’t hurt that the lineman whisperer, Dante Scranecchia, has returned to coach the group. Cannon’s conditioning and physique looks better. He just appears more athletic and explosive. And he’s seemed more relaxed in the limited time the media’s in the locker room.

All off that added up equals nobody really talking about Marcus Cannon.
“Like any lineman, the less you call his name probably the better he’s doing,” said Belichick. “It’s probably a good thing when you guys don’t talk about him. Then that probably means they’re not doing something too noticeably wrong, right?”