FOXBORO — On Tuesday, there was a report of the Patriots extending right tackle Marcus Cannon for five years and although Bill Belichick wouldn’t directly confirm the deal, he all but said it was true while praising the T

Bill Belichick seemed pleased to have Marcus Cannon around for the next five years. (Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports)

Bill Belichick seemed pleased to have Marcus Cannon around for the next five years. (Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — On Tuesday, there was a report of the Patriots extending right tackle Marcus Cannon for five years and although Bill Belichick wouldn’t directly confirm the deal, he all but said it was true while praising the TCU product.

“Marcus is having a good season,” Belichick said on Wednesday. “He’s been a good player for us. He’s had to fill in when Sebastian [Vollmer] and Nate [Solder] in previous years. We felt like we’ve had three good tackles and usually two of the three have ended up playing, how ever it went. It’s varied from year-to-year over the last few years, but Marcus has always done a solid job for us whenever he’s played. I’m glad we have him going forward.

“He works hard. Quiet kid, but he’s very dependable. Team-oriented. He’s done a good job for us in the running game, in the passing game. Good player.”

Cannon has started 10 of the 11 games this year, as he missed Week 5 with a calf injury. He’s having his best season as a professional, which is likely due to having offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia back on the staff, but also losing weight in the offseason.

The extension is reportedly worth $32.5 million with $14.5 million guaranteed. This likely means Vollmer is done in New England as the 32-year-old will be a free agent after the season.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

It's unclear how the Patriots will handle Rob Gronkowski the rest of the season.</p>
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Aaron Donald can mess up your day. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Aaron Donald can mess up your day. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Five things you have to know about the Los Angeles Rams, who will come to Foxboro to meet the Patriots Sunday at 1.

Aaron Donald is a bad man. And we mean bad in the sense that he can ruin the afternoon for an opposing offense. The 25-year-old defensive tackle has quickly become one of the best in the game at what he does. Working along the interior, the 6-foot-1, 285-pounder out of Pitt demands extra attention on every snap, and will present a sizable challenge for New England’s offense. He had 35 tackles (28 solo) this year, to go along with a team-high six sacks. Part of an impressive defensive front, the whole Los Angeles defense revolves around Donald. If you find a way to slow him down, you can go a long way towards limiting the Rams.

They are one of the better young defenses in the league. Truth be told, it’s not just Donald. The guys next to him — particularly Robert Quinn — do a good job feeding off him. The 6-foot-4, 270-pound defensive end manages to pick up some of the slack when Donald is double-teamed, and has managed to come away with four sacks on the year. Old pal Dominique Easley is also part of the rotation along the defensive line, and has chipped in with 2.5 sacks of his own. As a group, Los Angeles has allowed an average of 21.5 points per game, tied for 12th in the league. The Rams are seventh against the pass (227.5 passing yards allowed per game) and 20th against the run (112.3 rushing yards allowed per game). Los Angeles is middle of the pack when it comes to forcing turnovers (13 takeaways are tied for 19th in the league). Linebacker Mark Barron leads the team with two picks.

As expected, Jared Goff is still raw. The first overall pick this past spring has made two starts this season for Los Angeles, and is 0-2 out of the gate. In those games, he’s gone a combined 37-for-63 (59 percent) for 348 yards, three touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 83.3. The better of his two starts came last week against the Saints in New Orleans, where he tossed three touchdown passes in a 49-21 loss. It was a little more of a wide open approach than he had in his first start against the Dolphins where he went 17-for-31 for 134 yards and didn’t complete a single pass deeper than seven yards. (The feeling here is that when he’s going to throw against the Patriots, he’ll keep it on the conservative side.) The leading offensive options for Goff in the passing game are wide receiver Kenny Britt (54 catches, 81 targets, 788 yards, 4 TDs) and wide receiver Tavon Austin (44 catches, 79 targets, 401 yards, 3 TDs). The running game is led by Todd Gurley (200 carries, 641 yards, 4 TDs). Overall, the Rams are 29th in passing (212 yards per game) and rushing (83.1 yards per game). Biggest problem here? They can’t score the football. Los Angeles is dead last in the league in points per game at 15.5 points per game..

Their specialists are good and entertaining. Greg “Legatron” Zuerlein has just about the greatest nickname for any kicker ever. (This season, he’s 15-for-18 on field goals and 17-for-17 on extra points — he’s one of eight kickers with at least 15 extra-point tries who is perfect on the year.) Punter Johnny Hekker also has a cool nickname (“Johnny Kickball”) and hosts a radio show. He averages 46.7 yards per punt (eighth in the league) and has a 44.9 yard net (second in the league). Austin has been their primary punt returner, and has averaged eight yards per opportunity, while Benny Cunningham has worked as their primary kick returner (18 returns and an average of 28.2 yards per chance).

Jeff Fisher is inching closer to becoming The Biggest Loser. After a 49-21 loss in New Orleans last weekend, Fisher became No. 2 all time on the NFL losses list for head coaches, surpassing Tom Landry (162 losses) in 81 fewer games. It will take two to tie Dan Reeves at 165 and three to move past him for the record. No one is quite sure how Fisher has lasted as long as he has with the Rams, as he appears well on his way to his fifth consecutive season under .500 with the franchise. (I mean, at least Marvin Lewis has gotten to the playoffs.) Fisher had some truly great teams at the early stages of the 20th century — the Titans of 1999-2003 had the bad fortune to be really good at a time where some truly great teams ended up winning it all. But his last season where he was an above .500 coach came in 2008. In all honesty, the franchise might have been better off leaving him in St. Louis.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Oct 2, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) fumbles the ball as Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Dominique Easley (91) defends during the second half at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Dominique Easley forces a fumble earlier this season on Arizona running back David Johnson. (Matt Kartozian/USA Today Sports)

The Los Angeles Rams were the perfect fit for Dominique Easley.

When the Patriots surprised some and released the 6-foot-2, 285-pound defensive lineman on April 13, it didn’t take too long for New England’s 29th overall pick from the 2014 draft to land on his feet. On May 17, Easley signed a one-year, $600,000 contract with the Los Angeles Rams after working out for Jeff Fisher and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

Easley showed signs of being a dominant force along the defensive front. Just not enough. And the biggest issue was staying on the field.

On Dec. 17, 2014, the Patriots placed Easley on injured reserve with a knee injury. In 11 games of his rookie season, Easley finished with nine tackles, a sack, one pass defended, and one interception. Easley would earn a Super Bowl ring when the Patriots beat the Seahawks.

When Vince Wilfork left for Houston, Easley began the 2015 season as one of the Patriots’ starting defensive tackles. It was the perfect opportunity for Easley to show his skills. But nearly a year to the day of his initial season-ending injured reserve designation, the Patriots placed Easley on injured reserve once again with a thigh injury. He ended the season with 15 tackles and two sacks.

Now, after being able to stay on the field for all 11 games, he’s become a big piece of the Rams’ defensive front. He’s had six games of at least 30 snaps. He has 2.5 sacks and 24 tackles.

“I think pretty much the player that we saw when he was here,” Bill Belichick said Tuesday during a conference call. “He’s got an explosive first step. When he gains an advantage on that, whether it be power rush or getting to the edge, he can be a disruptive player. He’s very quick off the ball, he’s got an explosive first step, and like I said, when he gains the advantage, it’s hard to get it back.”

But the biggest benefit for Easley is getting the chance to play alongside one of the most dominant defensive linemen in football in Aaron Donald, the six-foot, 284-pound behemoth that anchors the Rams front.

“I’d say [Aaron] Donald is one of the most disruptive players in the league, maybe kind of like Geno Atkins that we played against with Cincinnati,” Belichick said. “He’s got good quickness, good playing strength. He’s got very good countermoves, so a lot of times he wins on his initial move, but if you happen to block his initial move, then he’s got a counter move and a quick counter and they’re hard to stop. He’s very instinctive. He’s got a good knack [for] knowing kind of when to do the right thing. He changes it up on his opponent, on those guards quite a bit. They don’t always get the same thing from him; he keeps them off balance. He’s really a very disruptive player. He makes his share of plays in the running game too, it’s not all pass rush. He does a good job in the running game and makes a lot of negative plays. He’s just a hard guy to block.

“Donald is not a small guy. He’s a powerful guy and he certainly can hold his own in there. I would say Atkins can too because of his explosiveness, but the thing about Donald is that he can power rush. He’s got good leverage. He uses his hands well and he’s got good quickness so he can get the edge. There’s not really a lot of weakness in his game. When a guy does that many things well, that’s what makes him hard to block. You can’t just set for a quick move, he’ll power you and run you right back to the quarterback. It’s really more about playing strength than it is weight. Some guys weigh more and don’t necessarily play that big and there are other guys that maybe weigh a little bit less that play bigger. He’s, whatever he is, 285 or somewhere in there, but he certainly plays strong. He’s not a light player at all.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

On Sunday against the Jets, the Patriots were hit with two penalties for 15 yards, not including the calls that were declined or offset. In terms of total flags, it was the fewest all season for New England, and tied a single-game mark set against Houston for fewest penalty yards incurred this year. Through 11 games this year, the Patriots have been whistled for 66 penalties (fifth fewest in the league) and 611 penalty yards (14th fewest in the league). Here’s a breakdown of the flags that have gone against New England after 11 regular-season games:

Most penalized players, listed by total flags and with total yardage lost:
OL Joe Thuney: 6 (3 offensive holding, 3 false starts), 45 yards
TE Rob Gronkowski: 5 (offensive holding, 3 false starts, taunting), 40 yards
CB Justin Coleman: 4 (defensive holding, 2 defensive pass interference, clipping — special teams), 53 yards
OL Nate Solder: 4 (chop block, 2 offensive holding, false start), 40 yards
OL David Andrews: 4 (tripping, 3 offensive holding), 40 yards
OL Marcus Cannon: 4 (2 offensive holding, false start, ineligible downfield pass) 30 yards
CB Eric Rowe: 3 (2 defensive pass interference, illegal contact), 63 yards
CB Malcolm Butler: 3 (defensive pass interference, defensive holding, illegal use of hands), 31 yards
CB Logan Ryan: 3 (defensive pass interference, illegal use of hands, defensive holding), 30 yards
LB Dont’a Hightower: 2 (unnecessary roughness, defensive pass interference), 22 yards
DE Chris Long: 2 (roughing the passer, defensive offsides), 20 yards
WR Chris Hogan: 2 (offensive pass interference, offensive holding), 14 yards
WR Julian Edelman: 2 (2 false starts), 10 yards
Team/ST: 2 (2 12 men on the field), 10 yards
RB LeGarrette Blount: 1 (unnecessary roughness), 15 yards
CB Cyrus Jones: 1 (disqualification), 15 yards
LB Jamie Collins: 1 (leaping), 15 yards
QB Tom Brady: 1 (intentional grounding), 10 yards
ST/S Devin McCourty: 1 (offensive holding — special teams), 10 yards
ST/S Nate Ebner: 1 (illegal block above the waist), 10 yards
WR Danny Amendola: 1 (offensive pass interference), 10 yards
OL Shaq Mason: 1 (offensive holding), 10 yards
TE Martellus Bennett: 1 (offensive holding), 10 yards
OL Ted Karras: 1 (offensive holding), 9 yards
DB/ST Brandon King: 1 (false start), 5 yards
P Ryan Allen: 1 (delay of game), 5 yards
TE AJ Derby: 1 (false start), 5 yards
QB Jimmy Garoppolo: 1 (delay of game), 5 yards
LB Jonathan Freeny: 1 (defensive holding), 5 yards
LB/ST Barkevious Mingo: 1 (false start), 5 yards
DL Malcom Brown: 1 (defensive holding), 5 yards
LB Elandon Roberts: 1 (illegal contact), 5 yards
WR Malcolm Mitchell: 1 (false start), 5 yards
DL Alan Branch: 1 (neutral zone infraction), 5 yards

Most penalized by position
Offensive line: 20 penalties, 174 yards
Cornerback: 13 penalties, 183 yards
Tight end: 7 penalties, 55 yards
Special teams: 7 penalties, 49 yards
Wide receiver: 6 penalties, 39 yards
Linebacker: 5 penalties, 47 yards
Defensive line: 4 penalties, 30 yards
Quarterback: 2 penalty, 15 yards
Running back: 1 penalty, 15 yards
Team: 1 penalty, 5 yards

Most frequently called penalties
Offensive holding: 16 (13th most, per NFLpenalties.com)
False start: 14 (13th most)
Defensive pass interference: 7 (14th most)
Defensive holding: 5 (13th)
Delay of game: 2
Unnecessary roughness: 2
Offensive pass interference: 2
12 men on the field: 2
Illegal use of hands: 2
Illegal contact: 2
Leaping: 1
Disqualification: 1
Tripping: 1
Clipping: 1
Roughing the passer: 1
Chop block: 1
Ineligible downfield pass: 1
Defensive offsides: 1
Intentional grounding: 1
Illegal block above the waist: 1
Neutral zone infraction: 1

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

The Patriots have signed one of their upcoming unrestricted free agents.

No it’s not Dont’a Hightower or Martellus Bennett — it’s right tackle Marcus Cannon.

Marcus Cannon

Marcus Cannon

The Patriots have signed one of their upcoming unrestricted free agents.

No it’s not Dont’a Hightower or Martellus Bennett — it’s right tackle Marcus Cannon.

According to ESPN’s Field Yates and Mike Reiss, the Patriots and Cannon have agreed on a five-year contract extension.

Cannon has played very well this season, which likely has had a lot to do with the return of offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia. The right tackle likely would have been one of the biggest names in terms of offensive linemen on the market, so the Patriots did a good job signing him early.

It also likely means Sebastian Vollmer has played his last game as a Patriot. He is on injured reserve and will be a free agent.

“The improvement we’ve noticed has really been this year,” Scarnecchia said during the bye week about Cannon. “We asked him to play a different way and do things differently. He’s such a good guy, he really tries to do them that way, and I think he’s made great strides. He’s improved over the course of this season, and that is all you can ask of any player. He’s a big man that moves very well and uses his hands much better in pass protection. He can be a real force in the run game, so I’m pleased with where he is. But neither one of us is satisfied, so we just keep moving forward.”

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Martellus Bennett has had an interesting first year with the Patriots. (USA Today Sports)It won’t fit on a winter hat or t-shirt. NFL Films probably won’t choose it as the title of their annual yearbook.



One week after the Texans played the Raiders in Mexico City, there are already rumors for a similar game in 2017.