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Sebastian Vollmer: New England ‘is the place I wanted to be’

03.28.13 at 1:43 pm ET

Sounding very much like a man who is relieved the free agent process is done, right tackle Sebastian Vollmer said Thursday afternoon that he was “just happy” to be back in New England after signing a four-year deal. Vollmer, a second-round pick out of Houston in 2009, was on the open market for roughly three weeks, but expressed relief he had the opportunity to return to the Patriots.

“This is the place I wanted to be,” he said on a conference call with reporters shortly before getting on a plane and flying to Germany for his sisters’ wedding. “I’€™m just really thankful for Mr. [Robert] Kraft and his family and Coach [Bill Belichick] and whoever else was involved to let me be a part of this and to give me an opportunity so I can continue to prove myself. [I’m] excited and happy to be here.”

The 28-year-old Vollmer has struggled with back and knee issues in his four-year career in New England, but when healthy, the 6-foot-8, 320-pounder has managed to carve out an impressive resume, one that includes a second-team All-Pro nod in 2010, as well as an overall grade of +28.2 from the folks at Pro Football Focus for his work this past season.

It’s an impressive stretch for someone who played relatively little football before arriving in the United States for college, and competed on a collegiate level for a relatively small program at the University of Houston. While many of his accomplishments are because of his own hard work, he singled out offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia as well.

“He’€™s been a tremendous influence on me — just coming from a smaller program and coming to a program like the Patriots and being with Dante and just learning the game under his tutelage and really focusing on technique and schemes and whatever else goes with it,” Vollmer said. “I’€™m really grateful for having him as a coach and continuing to have him as a coach. All the praise goes to him. I’€™m just really happy to have a coach like him who makes me better.”

Vollmer, who adroitly deflected a question as to whether or not he had taken any free agent visits with other teams, now returns to New England, and his re-signing means the Patriots will now have all five members of their starting offensive line at the end of the season back for another year. That level of familiarity is big when it comes to assembling a successful offensive line.

“When you play next to a guy for a few years and you practice next to a guy, you just get certain things down. You kind of know how the other guys play certain situations and you just get a feel for each other,” he said. “I think that is important. Although, injuries do happen and whatnot and that’€™s why we practice with different combinations. I think we’€™re just happy to have the starting five now intact and everything else, we’€™ll cross the bridge then. Definitely, I think it helps, and I think that’€™s a good thing.”

According to reports, Vollmer and the Patriots have crafted a unique contract, one that allows the German native to become one of the higher-paid tackles in the league if he stays healthy over the course of the deal. While Vollmer wouldn’t get into specifics of the deal, he did acknowledge that health plays a

“I feel really good. I just left the weight room and working out and whatnot. I feel really good and [I’€™m] actually going to take a trip to Germany pretty soon,” he said when asked about his health.

“Obviously you go into a season, you’€™re trying to be healthy. You do everything you can,” he said. “Sometimes you can’€™t help it; other things you can prevent with certain preparation. Obviously, as players, we do everything we can to stay healthy and prepare ourselves for the contact and physicality of the sport. Obviously, I’€™ve continued to do that.”

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