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Rookie Cannon activated

Lineman is ready to go after cancer treatments

By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / November 16, 2011

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FOXBOROUGH - In the same year Patriots rookie Marcus Cannon was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, the offensive lineman might get a chance to play in his first NFL game.

The Patriots added Cannon to the 53-man roster yesterday, three weeks after he was removed from the non-football injury list and cleared to practice. To make room for Cannon, the Patriots cut safety Ross Ventrone.

Before the NFL draft last April, Cannon was diagnosed with cancer and underwent a series of treatments that included chemotherapy. Now he is in remission and has cleared the final hurdle in his return by being added to the roster.

The Patriots drafted Cannon, who played at Texas Christian University, in the fifth round and placed him on NFI to start the season. Once he practiced Oct. 25, the Patriots had three weeks to make a decision about his roster status - place him on either the active roster or on season-ending injured reserve.

A host of people helped Cannon return to the field, said Nick Caserio, the Patriots director of player personnel.

“There’s a lot of people that had their hand in getting him ready between the trainers and the doctors and really Marcus himself,’’ Caserio said. “He’s done everything that he’s been asked to do; he’s controlled the things that he’s controlled.

“The most important thing was for him to get healthy, and we’re at that point. We’ll add him to the mix, we’ll put him on the roster, and he’ll be no different than any other player.

“When is he going to play, when is that opportunity going to come? Nobody really knows at this point, but expectation is that he comes in, works hard, prepares to play, and does his job.’’

Rookie offensive lineman Nate Solder said it has been nice to have a fellow rookie along in his first NFL season.

“I think Marcus is amazing,’’ said Solder. “All the challenges he had and all of the challenges he continues to have, he’s an amazing guy.

“I just want to support him and I know we’re the two rookies, so we’re sort of going through the same challenges together, so there’s some camaraderie between the two of us.’’

Cannon mostly played tackle in college, but coach Bill Belichick said last week that he doesn’t see any reason why he can’t play anywhere on the line.

“I think he’s athletic enough, he’s certainly big enough, he has enough power and enough quickness, so ultimately what is his best position? Left tackle, right tackle, left guard, right guard? I’m not sure,’’ Belichick said.

“I don’t see any limitations, but that being said, he hasn’t done it. He hasn’t done a lot of it, especially at guard. He’s a lot more comfortable at tackle; he has a lot more experience at tackle.’’

Just having Cannon in the mix is an achievement in itself.

“It really speaks volumes to him as a person and the doctors and the time that they’ve invested,’’ Caserio said. “It’s a credit to Marcus and I think there are a lot of people that are happy for him and look forward to working with him here in the future.’’

Mystery man

The Patriots will spend much of this week preparing for a quarterback who has been with several teams but has been limited in his time on the field.

Kansas City’s Tyler Palko has played in a total of four NFL games - two this season and two last - in a football journey that includes stops with the New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh Steelers. With Matt Cassel out with a hand injury, the 28-year-old Palko will get his first NFL start Monday night against the Patriots.

“He’s a player we have to do some work on and spend more time watching him,’’ Belichick said yesterday. “We of course haven’t seen a lot of him in regular-season game film. We can go back to preseason.

“I’d say an athletic player, quick release, can move around back there in the pocket, lefthanded, and sees the field pretty well. I think they have a lot of confidence in him.

“We all know from the 2008 season here and many other examples of teams we played against. Everybody wrote us off in 2008 when we lost Tom [Brady] and Matt led us to 11 wins.’’

Palko came in after Cassell was injured in Sunday’s 17-10 loss to Denver and completed five of six passes for 47 yards.

Nothing doing

For the first time this season, linebacker Gary Guyton was active for a game and didn’t play a snap. While Guyton was on the injury report (shoulder), he said yesterday he could have played. “This is the game of football and you get out there and the adrenaline is going and you just go out there and do the best you can,’’ Guyton said. “In a situation, if I was called, I’m going to go out there and do the best I can. I just have to be ready.’’ . . . Among other roster moves yesterday, the Patriots signed defensive back Malcolm Williams to the practice squad . . . Belichick said there is no update on the status of Devin McCourty, who hurt his shoulder in Sunday’s win.

Monique Walker can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @monwalker.

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