With this being the sixth game of the season for the Patriots and the sixth week of the NFL season, players who are on teams' physically unable to perform lists are eligible to begin practicing next week.
New England has four players who will be awaiting the green light to return to the field: Kevin Faulk, Ron Brace, Brandon Deaderick and rookie Marcus Cannon.
Cannon's situation, of course, is far different than those of his three teammates: he is recovering from treatment for non-Hodgkins' lymphoma, a form of cancer, which he was diagnosed with just before the draft this year.
Since he arrived in New England post-lockout, the details of Cannon's treatment have been top-secret. He underwent his final chemotherapy treatment in early July, and had re-gained the weight he initially lost from his ordeal.
Bill Belichick was asked about the offensive lineman from Texas Christian on Friday, and didn't reveal much, but said Cannon won't be on the field until he gets clearance from the medical staff first.
I've seen him a couple of times since training camp began, and he looks healthy and fit, though of course that assessment doesn't speak to whether or not he'll be able to start playing yet.
"He's progressing. He's coming along," Belichick said. "It starts as a medical decision. It’s no different than any other player, once a player is cleared medically to play then it becomes a football decision as to whether to play him or not or whether to activate him on PUP or whatever. Those are the steps. Once a player is cleared medically, then it becomes a football decision. Until then, there’s no decision to make."
Belichick said the decision will be made in the coming week as to whether Cannon will be medically cleared.
Though Cannon played tackle at TCU, he projects as an interior lineman in the NFL. The Pats' guard tandem of Logan Mankins and Brian Waters as well as center Dan Connolly, who has started since Dan Koppen's injury in the opening game of the year, have played well, but there is not a lot of depth behind them.