Time nears for undrafted players to find teams


Time nears for undrafted players to find teams

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
Tom Brady said it on June 3, Robert Kraft said it on June 9 and this week has brought more of the same good news regarding the NFL lockout. Progress has been made, optimism reigns and the end of the labor strife looms. Once the lockout ends, all the college players who went undrafted in April will finally have a chance to hook on with NFL teams. Players like Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich, Delaware quarterback Pat Devlin, Oregon defensive lineman Brandon Bair and West Virginia running back Noel Devine are going to finally be able to say, "Mom, Dad... I have a job."Our friends at NEPatriotsDraft.com have a list of the prime undrafted guys. For the Patriots, a player like Bair may be very attractive. He's 6-6, 276 pounds and can play that five-technique defensive end spot the Patriots really didn't address in the draft. He's 26 years old having spent two years away from college on a Mormon mission. Normally, undrafted free agents are quickly signed by teams immediately after the draft. Because of the lockout -- even though teams and agents cannot have contact about players -- there's probably been a lot more time for research on the part of the undrafted free agents to figure out where they'd like to work. And there's been more time for teams to set their targets as well. "For undrafted guys, (agents) have to strike fast and get those players in because you don't want to be left standing up without a chair when the music stops," said agent Joe Linta."You need to know from your research prior to the draft theone, two or 10 teams who would be interested. For an undrafted guy, it will be sign first, ask questions later."

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. 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?”