The biggest question about Cunningham is whether he will be capable of making the switch from playing with his hand on the ground to standing up as a linebacker. To Cunningham it doesn’t matter as he sees the issue simply. When asked which spot he prefers, he had an easy reply.
"Either one," he said. "I’m a football player, so as long as I’m on the field I think everything’s fine."
Last year the Patriots had a hard time generating a consistent pass rush. Cunningham will have every opportunity to help the team improve in this area but Belichick isn’t focused on any one area.
"I hope he’ll be able to contribute to us defensively running and passing," he said.
According to Belichick, Cunningham is a very instinctive player and the coach points out that he has been productive against a high level of competition in the talent-rich SEC.
"The guy’s played against a lot of NFL tackles last year or this year — guys who are or will be playing in the NFL. I think you saw [that] at LSU or Alabama. Andre Smith from two years ago, Michael Oher from Mississippi. We saw him against a lot of good people."
Like McGinest and Vrabel, Cunningham will bring far more to the table than just his physical ability. Like his predecessors he is an outstanding leader and the ultimate team player. He put his team ahead of his career and played with an injured shoulder in his senior season, including in the SEC Championship against eventual national champion Alabama, which caused him to miss the workouts at the NFL Combine.
His selflessness and leadership abilities were very appealing Belichick, who has lost a ton of leadership off the defense over the last couple of years.
"He’s a tough guy, a hard-working guy, very well respected on that football team in that program," Belichick said. "I think he was one of the real leaders for them on defense along with [fellow second-round pick] Brandon Spikes."
- Andy Hart looks at the wide receiver position, who's on the roster and how the competition might play out at camp.
- Albert Breer reports the Patriots and Devin McCourty's people have been negotiating for more than two weeks, hoping to have him locked up by July 29th.
- Karen Guregian reports Devin McCourty is confident a deal would get done so he could be there for the start of Training Camp.
- Albert Breer speculates on who'll be the next rookie to sign.
- Mike Reiss offers a snapshot of his interview on ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike in the Morning earlier today.
- Tom E. Curran examines the Logan Mankins situation and says it's hard to figure out whether he's a sympathetic figure or a selfish one.
- Tom E. Curran takes an honest look at the pig that was the Patriots 2009 pass defense, dredging up the gross numbers (he really means gross.)
- WEEI NFL Power Rankings: Training Camp Edition. Pats ninth.
- Albert Breer notes over the last three drafts, the Patriots had 15 top 100 picks with nine spent at secondary and linebacker. They need that investment to pay off this year.
- Albert Breer says that the huge influx of draft picks at those spots is a result of two things: Age in those areas previously and a dearth of young up-and-comers working behind them.
- Albert Breer scouts the schedule: Minnesota Vikings.
- Mike Reiss notes the Patriots have the sixth oldest team in the NFL (specialists not included.)
- Tom E. Curran says according to the 2010 team media guide Corwin Brown's title is... he doesn't have one, other than the catch-all description of "Defensive Coach."
- Mike Reiss works at clarifying Corwin Brown's role on the coaching staff.
- Tom E. Curran takes a look at how coaching changes will effect the team in 2010. (1 min. video)
- Mike Reiss offers a glimpse of which players are featured on the season tickets for each home game in 2010.
- John Beattie offers a summer distraction with the first installment of NESN Trivia.
- WEEI offers a list of NFL 2010 Training Camp dates and locations.
- Pro Football Weekly AFC East training-camp reports.
- What If Sports AFC East Preview. Predictions and projections.
- Tim Graham (ESPN) Tom Brady's contract looms over Patriots.
- Stephanie Stradley (NFL Fanhouse) AFC South Burning questions, bold predictions. Will the Colts' contract situations be a distraction?
- Bob Glauber (Newsday) visited with ESPN's "First Take" and gave his take on the Patriots' outlook for 2010. (1.07 min. video)
- Tim Graham (ESPN) First-half scoring: What's the difference?
- Michael Lombardi (NFL.com) Sunday notes.
- Greg Gabriel (Nat'l Football Post) So you want to be a scout?
- Don Banks (SI) Twenty questions to contemplate as 2010 season comes into focus.
- Michelle Smith (NFL Fanhouse) Dolphins' DE Phillip Merling charged with battery against pregnant girlfriend.