Were Patriots playing games with Mallett news?


Were Patriots playing games with Mallett news?

By Tom E. Curran

In-season or out, no NFL team sparks more conversation - or speculation - than the Patriots. A head-scratching 2011 NFL Draft brought both. One of the more fascinating bits was what happened with the Ryan Mallett selection. Friday night, with the Patriots' picks at 73 and 74 approaching, Michael Lombardi of NFL Network reported the Patriots were going to take Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett with one of the selections. And they did. Good get by him. Hey, sometimes you get stuff. For instance, as the time wound down on the Patriots at No. 33, I reported on Twitter that the Patriots would not be trading out of that spot as most everyone anticipated they would. But my buddy Greg Bedard of The Boston Globe wondered whether the Patriots played Lombardi. Bedard tweeted he was "almost positive" the Patriotsleaked Lombardi that info on Mallettknowing it would be broadcast into every war room across the league. Thepurpose? Flushing out a team to make a last-ditch effort to swing a deal with New England to take Mallett themselves. It's a sensible theory on a lot of levels. The Patriots controlled that 10-minute span with back-to-back picks and the Mallett news was relayed before the Patriots even took Stevan Ridley at 73. And if someone burst through the proverbial door waving a 2012 first-rounder, who wouldn't jump at that? Peter King got in touch with Lombardi to ask him what he thought of Bedard's theory. "Completely fictional," Lombardi told King. "The Patriots, I'm not speaking for 'em. They wouldn't have brought Mallett in for a visit if they didn't have any interest. It's completely inaccurate. The Patriots were seriously interested in Mallett, and I don't think I was used by them. Not at all."I lean toward Lombardi's opinion, though not solely because they really loved the promise and football intelligence of Mallett. I don't think the Patriots would hang someone out to dry as Bedard supposes they were prepared to do with Lombardi. In fact, I'm almost positive they wouldn't. They mean what they say or they say nothing at all.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?”