FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Jermaine Cunningham may not have been seen much last season, but the third-year defensive end will be on highlight reels across the country after delivering a crushing hit on Eagles quarterback Michael Vick on Monday night.
The first-quarter blow, which came after Vick released a deep pass, forced Vick out of the game. X-rays on the quarterback's ribs were negative.
After the game, Cunningham had little to say about the hit.
"It's football. That happens all the time," he said.
The Patriots' second-round pick in 2010, Cunningham started 10 games as a rookie but was shuffled out of the picture for 2011, when he recorded just one tackle in an injury-shortened season.
Cunningham bounced back this offseason and was honored by the team as one of 10 offseason award winners. While he is still battling for a reserve spot at defensive end, he had the chance to start in Monday night's game, with Rob Ninkovich among several veterans held out of action.
"Feels good to be out there playing football," Cunningham said.
In fact, following the game, Cunningham had little to say beyond that, perhaps indicating that he considers himself to be all-business heading into his 2012 campaign.
"That's just football," he said of his play on Vick. "Going out there and getting the person with the ball: running back, quarterback, receiver, whoever it is."