FOXBORO (CBS) – For New England Patriots rookie Marcus Cannon, a return to the football field is much more than a return to the football field.
A fifth-round draft choice out of TCU in April, Cannon was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma shortly before the NFL draft.
His return to the practice field means he is healthy and ready to go.
“It was awesome, finally getting to play with the team,” Cannon said Friday after practicing with the team the entire week. “I’ve been interacting with the guys, not on the field, but it’s nice to actually get on and move around a bit.”
Cannon opened the year on the reserve/non-football injury list. He underwent chemotherapy in Fort Worth, Texas, and was told two week ago he is in full remission.
The 23-year-old said he never thought about life without football.
“I always took it one day at a time. God has a plan for all of us. I never thought of that,” he said, adding if it came to that he had a college degree to fall back on.
Cannon said he is about 348-pounds, down from the 370 he weighed in at TCU. Other than the weight loss, the rookie said he did not experience many tough times from his treatment.
“I was really blessed; not much was really tough,” said Cannon. “Probably the toughest thing was to leave the team and get on a plane every three weeks… I’m back now and I’m happy to be here.”
Now that he is back in action, Cannon has a lot of catching up to do. But that is what teammates are for.
“Everyone here has been real supportive. The offensive line has been helping me get into it. I love this team, everybody has been great; everyone has been real supportive,” said Cannon.
And so far, his head coach is impressed with what he’s seen; both on and off the field.
“I think Marcus has handled it with great maturity,” head coach Bill Belichick said on Friday. “He’s a very focused individual that met the challenge head-on and never looked for any sympathy or ‘woe is me’ type of syndrome. He did what he had to do, he attacked it head-on. It looks like he’s done very well with it. I think he’s certainly earned a lot of respect and admiration from everybody in the organization, certainly myself.”
While he admits there is some rust to shake off, Cannon is up to the challenge of trying to see some game action this season.
“I haven’t played football in about 6-8 months. If I keep working and listen to coach, I’ll be alright”
“He’s had some limitations but he’s done what he can do,” said Belichick. “Whatever he’s been cleared to do, he has done. Of course, this is the first week he could work out on the field and do anything but as far his conditioning and running and lifting, those kinds of things, the things that he was able to do, he worked at and he did.”
Cannon was projected to be selected in the second-round of this year’s draft before the diagnosis.
The Patriots have until November 15 to decide whether to place him on the 53-man roster or season-ending IR.
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