FOXBORO -- Marcus Cannon knows that the work can't stop now.
Even though he's finally locked down a starting role, even though he's having the best season of his six-year career, even though he recently signed a five-year deal for $32.5 million and $14.5 guaranteed, he understands that what earned him that pay raise was his drive to improve. In going back and forth with reporters on Wednesday, the day after news broke of his extension, he vowed to keep that drive in gear.
"You know, that doesn’t validate anything," Cannon said. "I have to still come out here and do things better. There’s still things I need to work on that I’m not as good at. I’m very thankful to the opportunity that they’ve given me and I’m very blessed."
Patriots coach Bill Belichick told members of the media on Wednesday that he was glad the Patriots were able to extend their working relationship with Cannon. Since shedding weight this offseason and reuniting with offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, Cannon has earned the full-time job at right tackle and performed as arguably the team's most consistent lineman this season.
"I just changed some stuff here and there," Cannon said. "We’ve got a great strength and conditioning coach, Moses [Cabrera]. He helped a lot. Just putting people in my corner to help me do the best I can."
After serving as a swing tackle -- and a few ill-fated attempts at playing guard -- Cannon has taken over as an anchor on the right side of the offensive line for Sebastian Vollmer, who is on season-ending injured reserve with a hip injury and will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
With Nate Solder healthy under contract through 2017, the Patriots appear to have their tackle position set for the near future thanks in part to Cannon's emergence this season. Given the talent the Patriots have had on the edges since Cannon's arrival, it took a few years for him to long-term commitment he's received, but all along he never pictured himself playing anywhere else.
"It was my ultimate goal to play here forever," he said. "We'll see."