Marcus Cannon among six Pats earning PFF All-Pro honors

Marcus Cannon among six Pats earning PFF All-Pro honors

FOXBORO -- The Patriots landed a pile of players on the Pro Football Focus All-Pro teams and the honorees align well with a team that went 14-2 with a balanced offense and a defense that allowed the fewest points in the NFL. 

One honoree that bears particular notice though is right tackle Marcus Cannon. The much-maligned Cannon whose disappointing performance in the AFC Championship Game last season was chewed on throughout the offseason, was named second-team PFF All-Pro behind Titans rookie Jack Conklin.

According to PFF’s graders, Cannon’s run-blocking numbers were off the charts in 2016 and -- given the numbers put up by the Patriots offense and the eye-test -- those graders were dead-on. His run-blocking at the point of attack and at the second level being as good as anybody in the league. He can overpower head-up against power guys, he can stalk linebackers, safeties and corners. Meanwhile, he’s neutralized pretty much every game-wrecking pass-rusher who’s lined up across from him including Von Miller during that frigid game in Denver.

Whatever satisfaction or redemption Cannon felt after that game, he kept bottled inside. And on Thursday, when I asked him his reaction to postseason recognition (he also received votes for Comeback Player of the Year handed out by MMQB), he declined to get into how he felt while the season was still going on.

The only validation Cannon seems to ever need is that of his coaches and teammates. And they’ve routinely given it to him. A week before that AFCCG loss at Denver, Cannon was dominant in the win against the Chiefs and was celebrated for it. Throughout the early part of the year, Bill Belichick raved when asked about Cannon. And in November, the team gave him a five-year, $32.5M extension with $14.5M guaranteed.

“Marcus showed a lot of mental toughness from the day he got here with the cancer treatments and all that, honestly,” said Belichick, referring to the battle with lymphoma Cannon was waging when he was drafted in 2011. “It’s hard for a rookie to come into the National Football League and just make the adjustment, period. Marcus came in with all that a rookie normally had and his personal situation, the treatments and checkups and so forth. I thought he handled that with great maturity. He’s shown a lot of mental toughness and I’d say everything else is probably not in the same category as that. He shows up to work every day. He’s totally team oriented. Does what he’s asked to do. He never blinks. He just tries to do whatever he can to help the team. He’s got a lot of respect in that locker room.”

Before the season, his locker room was the only place he was getting due respect. Cannon took a pounding from fans and media after the Denver game (ESPN’s Bill Barnwell called Cannon “nobody’s idea of a 16-game starter” in September)  and through the offseason.

To me, his problem was never about talent, smarts or effort. It was about confidence and consistency, as I wrote in August.

That Cannon’s never fired back or attempted to explain or justify himself was something I thought of this week when the Celtics Jae Crowder threw a Twitter tantrum because Celtics fans cheered for Gordon Hayward of the Jazz when Hayward was introduced at the TD Garden Tuesday night.

Not even a personalized attack on the ever-celebrated Crowder and he was stomping his feet. Imagine if he had to walk 10 steps in Cannon’s shoes.

As for the other Patriots honored, maybe I’m burying the lead here but Tom Brady was the first-team quarterback honoree for PFF ahead of Matt Ryan. James Develin was second-team fullback behind Baltimore’s Kyle Juszczyk. Defensively, Malcolm Butler was a first-team corner along with Aqib Talib, Dont'a Hightower was a second-team linebacker honoree and Devin McCourty was a second-team All-Pro PFF safety. 

Former Patriots RB Danny Woodhead announces retirement

Former Patriots RB Danny Woodhead announces retirement

Former Patriots running back Danny Woodhead has announced his retirement after 10 years in the NFL.

The 33-year-old took to Instagram to make it official.

10 years! Wow, God had crazy plans for a small little kid from North Platte, NE! It’s been a wild ride and feel so blessed He allowed me to do what I loved for so long. But now it’s time to say goodbye to the game I love. First, I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Without Him my career wouldn’t have been possible. He blessed me with the gifts and He paved the way. All I had to do was follow His plans for my life, and His plans were crazy awesome! Next, I want to thank my wife who has been by my side since freshman year of high school. She has been a rock through all the ups and downs. Sis, Willy, Mae Mae, and Hopie your daddy is going to be home a ton more and I can’t wait! Thanks to my Dad and Mom for always supporting me and showing me that God is first, then everything else will fall into place. Ben, Joel, and Anna thanks for preparing me for the NFL in our backyard games growing up. The dreaded in-laws Steve and Suzie for always being there for me. Chris Gittings (agent) you’re the best and thankful your my brother/uncle! Thank you Jets, Patriots, Chargers, and Ravens! Thanks to all my head coaches (Bob Zohner, Brad Smith, Bill O’Boyle, Eric Mangini, Rex Ryan, Bill Belichick, Mike McCoy, and John Harbaugh) who believed in me! To my rbs coaches (coach skiles, coach reiners, Jimmy Raye, A Lynn, Ivan, Ollie, Ridge, and Thomas) thanks for putting up with me. Thanks to all my teammates from high school till now. Without you guys I never would’ve become who I was as a player. To all my olinemen, you guys deserve the credit for anything that I received credit for. I thank you for helping make my career. To all the trainers, team docs, strength coaches, chiropractors, massage therapists, physical therapists, body gurus thanks for making sure I was on the field. To all the people who made my life easier at the facility (ops, pr, equipment staff, cafe workers, custodians) thanks and your work doesn’t go unnoticed. And how could i forget all my fans?! You’re the best and have always felt the love and support! I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few but know that I’m thankful for everything everyone has done on my journey.

A post shared by Danny Woodhead (@teamwoody39) on

Thursday, it was reported the Patriots reached out to Woodhead for a possible reunion. 

The last two seasons have been challenging for him, as he dealt with season-ending injuries in both 2016 with the Chargers and 2017 with the Ravens.

Woodhead finishes his career with 2,238 yards rushing, 2,698 yards receiving, 15 rushing touchdowns and 17 receiving touchdowns.


NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: C's win despite injuries, Pats make additions

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: C's win despite injuries, Pats make additions

1:20 - Despite throwing a depleted roster out there, the Celtics were able to get back in the win column vs. the Magic. Michael Holley and Tommy Heinsohn break down the win.

6:17 - Finally, the Patriots have done something! On Friday night it was reported that New England signed defensive end Adrian Clayborn as well as running back Jeremy Hill. Tom Curran, Alex Giaimo and Ben Volin discuss the impact these additions will have on the team.

11:05 - While the Celtics were able to pull out the win on Friday, the team did announce that Marcus Smart is expected to miss six to eight weeks after undergoing thumb surgery. A. Sherrod Blakely expresses his optimism on Smart’s return for the playoffs.