Patriots

Cannon the key to slowing down NFL sack leader Beasley in Super Bowl LI

Patriots

HOUSTON -- The Patriots will be up against one of the game's top pass-rushers during Super Bowl LI when they see Falcons edge defender Vic Beasley, but they have an answer: Marcus Cannon. 

SUPER BOWL LI: THURSDAY REPORT

Long gone are the days when a team's top pass-rusher lined up on a quarterback's blind side and only his blind side. These days, sack masters line up all along defensive lines, and there seem to be just as many franchise talents who attack left tackles as there are those who attack right tackles. 

Beasley is one who usually aligns along the defensive left side. In fact, he's there almost exclusively, playing 96.2 percent of his pass-rush snaps from that side, according to Pro Football Focus.

It will be nothing new for Cannon to face an opposing defense's top guy, though. Denver's Von Miller (81.5 percent), Buffalo's Jerry Hughes (86.4) and Miami's Cameron Wake (99.5) are all primarily left-edge rushers who Cannon had to deal with this season, and he handled them all well enough to earn Second-Team All-Pro honors this year. 

Beasley racked up more sacks than any of those players (15.5), but he may have his hands full with Cannon. In what was a breakout season for one of Dante Scarnecchia's star pupils, Cannon allowed just two sacks -- both in Week 1. Since then, his sheet has been clean. He allowed just six regular-season quarterback hits, and his 19 hurries allowed, per PFF, were seventh among all offensive tackles. 

 

Cannon will see one of the most athletic rushers he's seen all season when he faces down Beasley, but he's proven this season that he's up to that type of challenge.