Patriots pick OG Cannon, TE Smith in 5th


Patriots pick OG Cannon, TE Smith in 5th

By TomE. Curran

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 Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Rex Ryan: Zero focus on 'extracurricular things' vs. Patriots


Rex Ryan: Zero focus on 'extracurricular things' vs. Patriots

FOXBORO -- Seems as though the Bills don't quite have their stories straight. 

On the one hand, you have Bills players, who say that they won't hesitate to retaliate if a Patriots player gets near one of their pregame warmup drills, as Jacoby Brissett did in Week 4. 

On the other hand, you have the Bills coach, who sounded less eager for there to be any kind of scrap before this weekend's game at Ralph Wilson Stadium. 

"No, I mean with us, just go out and warm up," Ryan said in a conference call Wednesday. "That’s what you do, but any of the extracurricular things, you know, there’s absolutely zero focus on that, and shouldn’t be any focus on that. It’s just about playing games.

"I mean if people want to show how tough they are, put the boxing gloves on and get in the ring or something. That might be more impressive -- I don’t want Gronk by the way.

"But I definitely don’t want to see that happen, and our focus is 100 percent on the game and doing the very best we possibly can."

It's an interesting comment from a coach who has made it very clear that he wanted to build a "bully" in Buffalo. His team shut out the Patriots after trying to intimidate New England's rookie quarterback before the game. Did his team not benefit somehow from what occurred before kickoff that day?

He doesn't think so.

"It had nothing to do with our team . . . Absolutely nothing," he said. "You know, those things happen every now and then but it was no big deal. It did absolutely nothing for us."

Roethlisberger to Brady: I've never done this before but...can I have your jersey?

Roethlisberger to Brady: I've never done this before but...can I have your jersey?

Tom Brady has fans everywhere, apparently. Even in Pittsburgh. Even on the Steelers roster. 

Showtime's Inside the NFL caught video of Brady meeting with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger before Sunday's game between New England and Pittsburgh. 

The pair hugged near the 50-yard line at Heinz Field. Brady called Roethlisberger "big guy." Roethlisberger, who was out with a knee injury, told Brady he wanted to play "so bad."


Then Roethlisberger became a fan. And like many of them, he had a request. 

"Um, hey, listen," he said. "I've never done this before, but I would love to get a jersey at some point. It'd mean...There's not many I want to put in my office. You're the best, dude."

Brady was happy to oblige. Just not right at that moment. 

"Sure, I'd love to," Brady said. "I'll get you after the game."