Shortened offseason not doing rookies any favors

Cannon (No. 61) helped TCU win the Mountain West.

Somewhat lost in the fray of the new collective bargaining agreement is the fact that the 2011 NFL class has gotten the worst of it.

Not only are they making significantly less money than last year’s class, but they are essentially walking right into the fire having missed an entire offseason, including OTAs that help prepare them for their first pro season.

At this point, not even every Patriot rookie has been signed, and the first preseason game is 10 days away.

“The players that haven’t had experience in our system, sure [it’s harder], they haven’t been here,” Pats director of player personnel Nick Caserio said. “But everybody has to get up to speed, and the goal is to get prepared as best they can and put themselves in a position that they make a contribution to the team.”

One rookie who won’t be rushed is 6-foot-5, 358-pound offensive lineman Marcus Cannon.

Cannon was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma right before the NFL draft, and watched his stock plummet. Cannon, who underwent treatment this summer, was selected in the fifth round by the Patriots. He signed with the Pats on Friday.

“He looks great,” Caserio said. “He’s done everything he’s been asked to do to this point. I think we’re all optimistic. I don’t think we’re going to rush into anything. I think we’re going to let that timetable sort of run its course.”

The lockout is lifted, so the team can communicate with Cannon directly about his recovery.
“Now we’re able to monitor him obviously a little more closely,” Caserio said, “have a little bit of a more definitive plan of where he’s going to be and what the timetable potentially could be.”



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