Texans' Marcus Cannon sheds rust in emotional return

Marcus Cannon experienced a lot of emotions during his first game in two seasons after opting out of last season due to medical concerns amidst the first year of the coronavirus pandemic.

Starting against the Jacksonville Jaguars in a 37-21 win last Sunday, the Texans’ veteran right offensive tackle and Odessa native played 50 snaps for 64 percent of the overall playing time.

For Cannon, 33, the oldest member of the Texans’ revamped offensive line, it was a significant moment.

“Man, when we first got out there, I could feel my feelings kind of raising up, because man, I really missed this game, I really missed it,” Cannon said. “I had fun, great times with my family. My kids are homeschooled, so we got to do little workouts before and hang out with them, go fishing in our pond. Just do stuff that I usually wouldn’t get to do in that year, but I’d be lying if I had said I didn’t miss it. It’s hard to watch games sometimes just seeing everybody out there, my friends and everybody just having a good time, flying around. Coming back, it was kind of emotional and I was excited to come and play. I’m very thankful.

“I’ve always been nervous test-taker, no matter how much I study. I wouldn’t say nervous about doing something wrong, just nervous because you always strive to do everything right. We know that may not be possible, but that’s where my nervousness comes from, because I want to do everything right and I want to make sure I’m not letting the team down. So that’s where I get a little nervous.”

The Odessa Permian graduate acknowledged he’s still shedding the rust he accumulated last season. Cannon hadn’t played in a game since the New England Patriots’ wild-card playoff loss on January 4, 2020 during the 2019 season.

“It was a little rusty,” Cannon said. “There’s some things that I got a chance to work on this week, and just hoping that I can go out there and play a little bit better. “Both, mental and physical. Just getting back in the game, and some things, where my feet are, some techniques and just stuff like that.”

Jacksonville Jaguars v Houston Texans

Photo: Getty Images

By design, Geron Christian substituted for Cannon in a nod to his conditioning. Christian played 28 snaps.

The Texans were encouraged by how Cannon performed, especially considering he missed the majority of the preseason after undergoing offseason arthroscopic knee surgery and straining a calf muscle.

Cannon could play even more this week against the Cleveland Browns.

“I’m just doing whatever they tell me to do,” Cannon said. “We’ve got a great staff, very knowledgeable in the communications there. I’m going to do whatever they say. If they say, ‘Hey, we looked at your numbers and it looks like you could do this,’ then I’ll do that. If they say, ‘We don’t like your numbers,’ or something, I don’t know. I’m just a player and I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help the team, and whatever they say that is, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Cannon and the Texans’ entire offensive line is facing an extremely tough challenge against Browns defensive ends and former top overall picks Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney.

“Man, those are two freakishly great athletes,” Cannon said. “I played against both of them throughout my career, and every single time you see why they’re so good. They’re both fast, they both move around, they have great movement skills. It just seems like they’re out there and they get the freedom to do what they need to do to make plays, and that’s what they do. It’s going to be a great challenge versus two great guys. The whole defense, they’re a pretty good defense.”

A powerful presence at the line of scrimmage at 6-foot-6, 335 pounds, Cannon was obtained along with a 2021 fifth-round draft pick and a 2021 sixth-round draft pick from the Patriots this offseason in exchange for the Texans' 2021 fourth-round draft pick originally obtained from the Arizona Cardinals and a 2021 sixth-round draft pick.

"Marcus, we actually had a set number of plays that we were going to play him simply because it was his first time back for a while, and he did a nice job," Texans coach David Culley said. "We were taking him in, taking him out, and that was intentional. I thought he did a good job. The big thing was we wanted to make sure he got out of there healthy, that he got out of there feeling pretty good, and that happened during the game. He was fine. I thought those guys did a nice job.”

Aaron Wilson has covered the NFL for 20 years and has previously written for The Houston Chronicle and The Baltimore Sun. He’s on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL and Instagram: @aaronwilson7128

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