FOXBORO, Mass. — Marcus Cannon’s importance to the New England Patriots’ offense grew exponentially Sunday following reports that injured right tackle Sebastian Vollmer could miss the entire 2016 season.
With Vollmer out, the versatile Cannon is New England’s new projected starter at right tackle. And while Cannon has bounced all over the offensive line during his five seasons with the Patriots, head coach Bill Belichick believes this is the spot at which the veteran is most effective.
“He’s had a good camp,” Belichick said before Monday’s practice. “He has played other positions, can play other positions, but I think (right tackle) is his best position. All of those other moves … (it) wasn’t the idea of, like, ‘We need to move Marcus.’ There were other circumstances, and because of his athleticism, his intelligence, his versatility, a lot of times he was the guy making the move. But I think we’ve got him in a good spot now.”
Cannon saw time at guard and left tackle for the injury-ravaged Patriots last season, but he was used most as a right tackle, starting six regular-season and two playoff games there. He also has been the Patriots’ first-team right tackle throughout the summer as Vollmer remains on the physically unable to perform list.
Belichick called Cannon “a true swing tackle” but said the lineman’s skill set makes him better suited for the right side.
“He has played both (right and left tackle) for us,” Belichick said. “I think he could play both. I think he’s probably a little more in the right tackle mold, but he can play left tackle. He would play it a little differently than (Matt) Light played it or maybe (Nate) Solder plays it.
“I’d say he’s a true swing tackle but with right tackle probably being his better position, but I think he can play left tackle. He has played left tackle. I know he can play left tackle.”
Solder, now healthy after missing all but four games last season with a torn biceps, bookends the other side of the line from his usual left tackle spot. LaAdrian Waddle projects as the primary backup for both Solder and Cannon, and the Patriots could choose to either keep Cameron Fleming on the 53-man roster as a fourth tackle or rely on the versatility of players such as center Bryan Stork and guard Joe Thuney, both of whom have the ability to line up at tackle if need be.
The Patriots’ offensive line was a revolving door last season, with New England using more O-line combinations than any other NFL team.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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