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Marcus Cannon: ‘It’s just a blessing to have this opportunity to play in the NFL’

04.30.11 at 6:12 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” Patriots’€™ fifth-round selection Marcus Cannon held a conference call with the New England media this afternoon, and here are a few of the highlights of the Q&A:

What was your reaction to getting drafted by the Patriots?
It was a blessing. Me and my family, we’€™re pretty ecstatic. After all that we’€™ve figured out in the last couple of weeks, it’€™s just a blessing to have this opportunity to play in the NFL.

You mentioned the last couple of weeks. Can you take us through of what it has been like? I imagine it’€™s been quite an emotional roller coaster for you and your family?
We first figured out that I have lymphoma, and my parents came down here. It really hasn’€™t been as emotional as you’€™d expect. God’€™s kept us pretty settled, he’€™s kept us pretty patient, so everything’€™s been taken care of.

What tipped you off that you first might be suffering from something or did it just come up in normal physical exams?
At first it came, [when] they said [it] in an exam in the combine. One of the teams ordered a biopsy and the biopsy confirmed that something was wrong.

Where do you go from here with your medical situation?
I listen to whatever doctors tell me to do. I’€™ve started treatment. I just listen to them. I just do what they say and go to my treatment. That’€™s all I can do.

Is it at all disappointing or difficult? I mean, this a culmination of the amateur portion of your professional career, so is it hard for you to now have to sit on a conference call and talk about all this medical stuff. Is that disappointing or difficult for you?
It’€™s not disappointing. This is just something I have to go through. God wouldn’€™t have put on my plate if it were something that I couldn’€™t handle. I knew this was going to happen. I was going to have to talk about this the whole time. If that’€™s what you all want to know, it’€™s okay. Me and my family are here celebrating and we can care less about the other part. Right now we’€™re just real happy that I’€™m going to be in the NFL.

How did you emotionally prepare for this week, because at some point, it looked like you would go in the second round or even higher and now it’€™s the fifth round? Did you know that your stock would slip a little bit? Did you have an idea that it would take until the third day?
I knew my stock was going to slip a little bit. Me and my family just had faith and we knew that God’€™s favor would show and that I’€™d get picked up somewhere. We were just sitting waiting patiently for a call and we finally got it.

You’€™re larger than the guards that the Patriots have on the roster. Can you tell us your attributes and what you think you can bring to the offensive line here?
I think I bring a big frame that moves as fast as everybody else or faster, a lot of power, and I bring a good personality to the team.

Have you ever played at guard before?
No, I haven’€™t.

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Marcus Cannon,

Patriots close out their draft with pick of TCU DB Malcolm Williams at No. 219

04.30.11 at 6:02 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” With the 219th pick in the NFL draft on Saturday, the Patriots took defensive back Malcolm Williams out of Texas Christian. A 5-foot-11, 205-pounder, he’s made his mark as a collegian on special teams who posted some exceptional physical numbers before the draft, including a 4.47 in the 40-yard dash and a 40-inch vertical.

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Malcolm Williams,

Patriots go for Markell Carter at No. 194

04.30.11 at 5:45 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” The Patriots took defensive end Markell Carter with the 194th overall pick in the NFL draft on Saturday. A 6-foot-4, 248-pounder out of Central Arkansas, he totaled 62 tackles, 5.5 sacks and three forced fumbles as a senior, and finished his college career with 16.5 sacks. Here’s some video of him in action at Central Arkansas:

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Markell Carter,

Lee Smith: ‘Humbled’ to be a part of Patriots’ tight end crew

04.30.11 at 4:29 pm ET
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Patriots fifth-round draft pick Lee Smith just wrapped up a conference call with the media ‘€” here are a few quick highlights from the Q&A:

Thoughts on getting the call?
Oh, man. I was actually in my backyard playing baseball with my three-year-old. I got the call, and walked inside with my wife and it’s a dream come true. You know, my father played in the NFL. It’s been a dream of mine my whole life to play at the highest level of competition in this sport, and just to get that opportunity and to be able to bring my son and my daughter and my wife along for the ride, it’s just so humbling and so rewarding, I can’t explain the emotions that went through my body.

How did your father help you through this process, being that he went through it as a professional?
My Dad actually passed away last year, but throughout my whole life, he prepared me mostly for the mental aspect of the next level. He always told me that it’s pretty much even ground as far as the physical attributes go. Once you get to that next level, as long as you continue to work hard and be as mentally strong as you can be, then you have a good chance to get through it. Every step of the way that I’ve gone through in my athletic career to this point he had already gone through, so having him there to kind of lean on and ask questions when something would go wrong or something would go right, have him there to say, ‘This is how I handled it,’ and maybe I should have handled it different. Having his help was something that I’d never take for granted and something I wish I had today. I wish I could call him and talk about being a Patriot.

Walk us through the move from Tennessee to Marshall?
Yes ma’am. I’d known coach Fulmer my whole life. My Dad played for coach Fulmer at Tennessee. It was kind of a no-brainer situation for me. I was raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, here where I’m living now with my family. That where was where I always wanted to play college football. There was a bump in the road, and it ended up being the best thing that ever happened to me. I ended up moving to Marshall, met a lot of great people, a lot of great men in my life that helped me become a man. I had my two children there. Me and my wife got married while I was at Marshall. I think something that seemed to be a negative at the time turned into a very great positive. I don’t think I’d be a Patriot right now if it wouldn’t have happened.

What did you think of the New England tight ends last year?
It fires me up to see two and three and four tight end sets on the field. It’s very special when a team can do that. It definitely makes mismatches. I think Hernandez and Gronkowski and Crumpler, they are all very different players, but at the same time, with all three of them on the field, it’s a nightmare for a defensive coordinator for any team in he NFL. I’m humbled to be put in a group with those three guys, and I’m excited to kind of pick their brains and hopefully get a little knowledge from each one of them. I know Crumpler’s been in the league for a long time ‘€” I remember watching him when I was a young kid. It’s very humbling to get to play beside him, and like I said, I’m excited to take all I can from him and the other two guys as far as their experiences as rookies.

Do you feel you could serve as a long snapper in the National Football League?
Well, a guy named Mike Bartum actually played tight end at Marshall, I think he was in New England for a little while. He did it for a long time in the league ‘€” I think he was in the league for 13 or 14 years, and at that position, it can add two or three years to a players’ football career. I feel like anything that allows me to play in the National Football League an extra year is worth working at every day. That’s been my passion my whole life ‘€” I love playing football. I love the competition. I love the cameraderie. I will say that if there’s someone in New England who cam get me right n my long snapping, I definitely could use a tweak on it here and there, that’s something I could definitely learn to do. If there’s an extra tight end on the roster, I feel like he could also be your long snapper. It adds a roster spot or someone else. So it could be nothing but helpful to me and the Patriots.

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Lee Smith,

Highlights from Bill Belichick’s Friday night Q&A with NFL Network

04.30.11 at 3:29 pm ET
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Courtesy of NFL Network, here are a few of the highlights of Bill Belichick‘s Q&A Friday night at the end of the third round.

On drafting Ryan Mallett in the third round:

‘€œWe thought there was real good value on the board there with Ryan. He’€™s had an excellent college career, both at Michigan and then when [Michigan] changed offenses, [he] went to Arkansas. [He] won a lot of games in high school, his father was a coach. He’€™s a football guy, comes from a football family, which I think I can relate to. I think he’€™s a good football player. He was great value for us based on what was on the board at that point in time so we felt comfortable taking him. We’€™ll let him compete with our quarterbacks on the team ‘€” [Jonathan] Crompton, [Brian] Hoyer and [Tom] Brady ‘€” and see where it all goes. We’€™ve all seen when you have a football team when you don’€™t have depth at that position, that can be a very big problem for your team. Hopefully we have it now.’€

On drafting two running backs: Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley:

‘€œWe had some age at running back this year. I think this gives us two younger players that can compete at that position. Both very productive players and I’€™d say very different. Ridley’€™s a bigger back, powerful guy, good inside runner, big strong, physical tough yard kind of guy. Vereen is more of a space player, good hands, very good in the passing game. Both guys are quality guys. I think they’€™ll help us in the kicking game. They’€™ve had good production in a high level of competition, both at Cal and at LSU. I think Ridley was productive not only this year where he had most of his production but in the opportunities that he had in prior years when they rotated backs, he still had a lot of production at a high level in the SEC. I think those two backs complement each other well and will give us good competition at the position.’€

On the deal with the Raiders in which the Patriots traded their third- and fourth-round picks in this year’€™s draft for Oakland’€™s second round pick in 2012:

‘€œThat was probably one of the most unusual trades that I’€™ve ever been a part of. We started talking about that trade sometime this afternoon. It seemed like it took about six hours to make. We went back and forth, and they picked, and we picked. It finally ended up there where it did. I think that their mindset was to get an extra pick there in the third and fourth round. Once we traded back with Houston and picked up an extra third round pick, then we had a little bit of surplus there. When we had the opportunity to move that pick into the second round in next year’€™s draft, we just felt like that was good value for us based on what the values were on the board when we made that trade. Oakland wanted to do it early; we were happy to get it done. Again, based on the values on the board, there wasn’€™t a player we felt like we would draft this year that would have a comparable value to a second round pick next year. That’€™s why we went ahead and pulled the trigger.’€

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Bill Belichick,

Marshall TE Lee Smith is picked by Patriots at No. 159 overall

04.30.11 at 3:16 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” The Patriots selected tight end Lee Smith out of Marshall with the 159th overall pick of the NFL draft on Saturday.

Smith is a 6-foot-6, 266-pounder who finished his senior season with the Thundering Herd with a career-best 38 catches for 358 yards and three touchdowns. He started his collegiate career at the University of Tennessee, but was kicked off the team after a DUI. He transferred to Marshall, and finished his college career with 75 catches for 791 yards and three touchdowns.

His father, Daryle, played offensive line at Tennessee and spent six seasons in the NFL playing for the Cowboys, Browns and Eagles before spending four more seasons in the CFL.

Here’s some video of Smith as a collegian:

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Lee Smith,

Patriots take TCU OL Marcus Cannon at No. 138

04.30.11 at 2:14 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” With the 138th overall pick in the NFL draft, the Patriots selected TCU offensive lineman Marcus Cannon.

Cannon, a 6-foot-5, 358-pounder, has played tackle over the course of his college career, but it’s believed he might have some positional versatility, possibly moving to guard at the next level. Many initially believed Cannon to be a second-, or even a first-round pick, but Cannon was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, which was discovered when he went through physicals at the combine. (Reports indicate that it is treatable ‘€” Cannon faces a success rate for beating the cancer of better than 90 percent.)

Cannon is a three-time All-Mountain West Conference selection and a third-team All-American in 2010.

Here’s some video of Cannon at TCU:

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Marcus Cannon,
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