Cunningham connects with kids, alumni

Patriots linebacker Jermaine Cunningham spoke at the "Football for YOU" camp at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School in Roxbury. Courtesy of New England Patriots

Second-year outside linebacker Jermaine Cunningham, who fans are hoping provides a boost to the Patriots' pass rush in 2011, took the field with 100 Boston youngsters and Patriots alumni today.

Cunningham was the featured speaker at the "Football for YOU" camp at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School in Roxbury. The camp is provided by the New England Patriots Alumni Club (NEPAC) and New England Patriots Charitable Foundation, with help from sponsors, The Hanover Insurance Group and Papa Gino’s.

Rain in the region didn't keep Cunningham from delivering his message and posing for photos with those on hand.

Part of Cunningham's message was how he was once in the same situation as those who were in attendance -- listening to NFL players such as Takeo Spikes -- and if you surround yourself with the right people and make good decisions, there is a chance to live your dream.

Cunningham, who grew up in Stone Mountain, Ga., has spent the majority of his offseason in New England in hopes of making the Year 1 to Year 2 jump that Bill Belichick often cites as the time players can make the biggest strides. One of Cunningham's goals this offseason, in which he's studied film on a regular basis, has been to become a player that opposing offenses have to account for on every snap.

In addition to the youth taking part in the camp, more than 20 Patriots alumni were on hand, including defensive back Roland James, who totaled 29 interceptions from 1980-90. The 29 interceptions ties him for third on the team's all-time list.