|12-26-2012, 05:43 PM||#1|
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Patriots DE Jermaine Cunningham Back From NFL Suspension
Defensive end Jermaine Cunningham is set to come back from a four-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
The team is hoping that he can quickly re-assimilate himself and pick back up on what was shaping up to be a breakout season, but the coaching staff is cautiously optimistic and admit that it make take some time before Cunningham fully reclaims his spot as a top reserve.
"Really, no matter how much a player runs around a track or does situps or whatever, itís not the same as when the other 21 guys are out there hearing plays called, reacting to what happens on the other side of the play, communicating, making adjustments with your teammates," coach Bill Belichick said. "Thereís just no way to do that other than to do it."
One of the silver linings of Cunningham's suspension was that it allowed other players to get into the defensive rotation and prove their worth. Defensive end Trevor Scott was one of the beneficiaries and showed three weeks ago against Miami that he deserves to receive some snaps by recording two sacks.
Undrafted rookie Justin Francis also managed to make an impression in an expanded role.
"Itís certainly a positive for some of the players who get those opportunities," Belichick said. "If they can take advantage of them and use that opportunity to enhance their role or show through their performance that theyíre ready to handle more responsibility, itís a good thing for them and ultimately it can be a good thing for the team to be able to actually see those guys do it, see those guys improve, watch them get more reps in practice and in the games and get more confidence in them and know that their execution level is higher from that."
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