Eyes on rookie OLB Cunningham

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Patriots' preseason opener is expected to be a good chance to evaluate rookie linebackers Brandon Spikes (second round, 62nd overall) and Jermaine Cunningham (second round, 53rd overall). Both are projected to see significant playing time.

But Cunningham was limited in Wednesday morning's practice after getting shaken up during a punt-return drill.

Cunningham was playing on the line of scrimmage and as he turned to race down the field to set up the team's blocking scheme, his feet seemed to get tangled up with a Saints player. Cunningham walked to the sideline under his own power and it looked like his ankle was being evaluated by trainer Jim Whalen.

It didn't appear to be anything major, although it will be something to monitor in terms of Cunningham's playing time Thursday night.