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Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon ready to take ‘long’ road to replace Sebastian Vollmer ‘one brick at a time’ 08.22.16 at 1:30 pm ET
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FOXBORO — These are interesting times for Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon.

The pair of offensive tackles are now front and center on the offensive line with the news over the weekend that Sebastian Vollmer could miss significant time or even the season with a bad hip.

“I love Sebastian,” Solder said. “Whatever he needs or whatever it is, I’ll always be there for him. Sebastian is an awesome guy. He’s one of my best friends. There’s so many things but as a group, we just have to move forward.”

What the Patriots need from Solder and Cannon will be consistency. With Solder slotted at left tackle, Cannon steps into right tackle, a position has had held down since the start of camp since Vollmer has not been able to actively practice at all.

“Wherever they want you to go, they have trust in you and you trust them,” Cannon said. “That’s what it is. If they want you play, that must mean they have trust for you to play in that position, wherever they put me.”

That consistency started to show last Thursday against the Bears with a good effort that produced a solid run game to complement Jimmy Garoppolo, especially in the second quarter.

“I think we definitely made an emphasis of it that week and going forward, there’s a lot of things we need to emphasize and improve on. I think that’s one of the steps where we improved and hopefully, we can continue to improve going forward,” Solder said. “We’ve had some pretty exciting games, I think. I know I’ve been excited to be back in some games. It’s been fun the whole preseason. We’ve taken it pretty seriously.

“There may have been but we’re never satisfied because we have a long ways to go. The way we practice, the way we play, whoever is out there, we’re ready to go. That’s kind of our philosophy on that.”

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Mike Petraglia updates Tom Brady status, injuries of Dion Lewis, Sebastian Vollmer, Shaq Mason 08.21.16 at 3:23 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Sunday was a big day of injury news in Foxboro as Dion Lewis, Sebastian Vollmer and Shaq Mason are all reportedly dealing with injuries. Meanwhile, Tom Brady has been excused for the next two days for what’s being termed “non injury-related” reasons. WEEI’s Mike Petraglia has the details.

Read More: 2016 training camp, Dion Lewis, Mike Petraglia, New England Patriots
Report: OL Sebastian Vollmer likely to go on injured reserve; OL Shaq Mason has broken hand at 12:25 pm ET
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Sebastian Vollmer

Sebastian Vollmer

The Dion Lewis injury news wasn’t the only bad news the Patriots received on Sunday, as their offensive line is banged up as well.

According to the Boston Globe’s Jim McBride, right tackle Sebastian Vollmer is likely heading to injured reserve with an undisclosed injury. He’s currently on PUP.

McBride also reports right guard Shaq Mason has a broken hand and the timetable for his return is unknown.

This explains why Mason didn’t play in Thursday’s second preseason game. Veteran lineman Josh Kline played in his place. With all of these injuries, it would appear the Patriots’ offensive line might look something like this Week 1 (from left-to-right): Nate Solder, Joe Thuney, David Andrews/Bryan Stork, Kline and Marcus Cannon.

It’s important to note with Vollmer and the possibility of injured reserve, the rule has changed this year as teams don’t need to designate a player to return, teams can simply choose a player who’s been on injured reserve for at least six weeks and activate him once he’s healthy enough to play again.

[UPDATE 12:55 p.m.: CSNNE’s Tom E. Curran reports Vollmer is dealing with a hip issue.]

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Read More: Sebastian Vollmer, Shaq Mason,
Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Sebastian Vollmer among those not spotted on field prior to Patriots-Saints 08.11.16 at 7:07 pm ET
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Julian Edelman

Julian Edelman

FOXBORO — The following players were not spotted on the field prior to Thursday’s preseason game: wide receiver Julian Edelman, quarterback Tom Brady, wide receiver Chris Hogan, cornerback Logan Ryan, running back D.J. Foster, running back Dion Lewis, running back Donald Brown, safety Nate Ebner, tight end Bryce Williams, defensive end Rob Ninkovich, linebacker Jonathan Freeny, offensive lineman Tre’ Jackson, defensive lineman Frank Kearse, offensive lineman Jonathan Cooper, offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer, wide receiver Danny Amendola and wide receiver Keshawn Martin.

All other players, including Rob Gronkowski, were spotted on the field in full pads warming up. It’s unclear whether or not he plays.

Of the players not spotted, there really weren’t any surprises as most of those players have been held out of practice lately, seemingly nursing injuries.

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Read More: Chris Hogan, Julian Edelman, Sebastian Vollmer,
Most Important Patriots of 2016: No. 17, Sebastian Vollmer 07.05.16 at 11:45 am ET
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Sebastian Vollmer has been a starter pretty much since he arrived in Foxboro in 2009.  (Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Sebastian Vollmer has been a starter pretty much since he arrived in Foxboro in 2009. (Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

As the countdown to training camp begins later this month, we’re going to take a look at the 20 most important members of the Patriots heading into 2016.

17. Right tackle Sebastian Vollmer

Height: 6-foot-8
Weight: 320 pounds
Age: 31 (Turns 32 on July 10)

Resume: Vollmer has managed to build a rep as one of the more underrated members of the New England team since he first arrived as a second-round pick (58th overall) out of the University of Houston in 2009. The big German struggled with injury over the last few years (he played in just six games in 2011 and eight games in 2013), including issues with his back, leg and head. But when he’s been healthy, he’s provided excellent protection for the quarterback — he was a second-team All-Pro in 2010 and a second-team All-NFL offensive tackle (per Pro Football Focus) in 2012 and 2014. Hard to believe, but there are only four players on the roster older than Vollmer, who has come a long way from not being invited to the combine as a college prospect.

Why we ranked him here: As we have argued on several occasions, it is really hard to quantify good offensive line play. Many times, it’s not the best five linemen, but the five who work best as a unit. That being said, it’s hard not to equate a healthy “Seabass” with a successfully New England offense. In short, his veteran status on the roster, his ability — when healthy — to provide excellent protection for the franchise quarterback against the demons who live out there on the edge, as well as his versatility all combine to give him a spot on our list. Last season, after left tackle Nate Solder was lost for the year with a biceps injury, he flipped over to the left side and did as well as could be expected under the circumstances.

One more note in Vollmer’s favor? The drop-off from New England’s starting offensive tackle duo of Vollmer and Solder to the third and fourth guys on the depth chart. If one or both tackles go down, it doesn’t matter how quickly Tom Brady gets rid of the football, it’s going to have a significant impact on the offense. As a result, when it comes to determining overall value, it’s hard to argue against putting him in the Top 20.

Quote: “He’s been such a dependable player for us since he got here. He’s been phenomenal. He’s just a great player, great person, great teammate, always prepared. Football is very important to him, and I love playing with him.” — Brady on Vollmer, 11/4/15

“I think Sebastian has done a good job for us. I think it’s a tough switch. It’s kind of going from doing everything one way – all your footwork and punching and leverage and everything you do and then flipping it over and doing it the exact opposite way. From a technique standpoint, it’s definitely challenging on top of the fact that you’re working with different people on the other side of the line and there’s that timing and being able to see things the same as the person next to you, but it’s a different person and sometimes we all see the same thing just a little bit differently. Getting all that together, it takes time, it takes work, it’s not easy, but I think all that being said, he’s done a great job of making that transition over there the last couple weeks. We’ve really needed him to do that. Sebastian is one of the best teammates, a guy who always puts the team first as much as anybody we have on our team. He’s done that and done a good job of it for having had minimal practice at it, a few training camps and so forth. But he works hard and we’ve definitely been able to maintain a lot of our offensive production, so that’s been good.” — Bill Belichick on Vollmer switching from right tackle to left tackle, 11/2/15

Random note: Vollmer has 10 career playoff starts. That’s tied for fourth on the Patriots current roster with Patrick Chung. They’re behind Brady (31), Devin McCourty and Rob Ninkovich (13 each).

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Sebastian Vollmer: ‘We don’t need extra motivation for anything’ 05.17.16 at 4:22 pm ET
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Sebastian Vollmer speaks Tuesday at Gillette Stadium. (Mike Petraglia/

Sebastian Vollmer speaks Tuesday at Gillette Stadium. (Mike Petraglia/

FOXBORO — Sebastian Vollmer wasn’t about to take the bait.

The 34-year-old veteran offensive tackle took time out from his offseason workout Tuesday at Gillette Stadium and spoke about the process of moving on and building something new for the coming season.

When last we saw the right tackle entering his eighth season in the NFL, he was playing left tackle on a make-shift offensive line that was manhandled by the defensive front of the eventual Super Bowl champion. It was a performance that precipitated the departure of offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo and ushered in the return of Dante Scarnecchia.

Did the way the season ended last year (losses in Miami and Denver) factor into inspiration for this year?

“It’s a new year. I feel like we don’t need extra motivation for anything,” Vollmer said. “I think we come out here and try to better yourself as a player, as a team, as a group, all that stuff. Putting in these hours and working toward the common goal. Now, it’s getting ready for OTAs next week and then we have training camp coming up and all that stuff. So, it’s a long road ahead. But it’s just doing what we’re told to do and grinding it out, really.

“It’s good. There’s a lot of new teammates, obviously,” Vollmer said of the re-worked offensive line. “It’s exciting for us to get to know them and all get on the same page with OTAs starting next week. Exciting times.”

Exciting indeed. Naturally, everyone wanted to get a feel for what it’s like to have Scarnecchia back in the budiling.

“Obviously, had him my first five years. Excellent coach. Can’t praise him high enough. So obviously, us as players we’re asked to do to the best of our abilities. We’re going to keep that approach the same. Expecting good things. I think he expects the best of us and himself. I think just the way he coaches, detail-oriented. He just gets the best out of you.”

Vollmer downplayed the familiarity aspect of Scarnecchia.

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Read More: Dante Scarnecchia, Dave DeGuglielmo, New England Patriots, nfl
Patriots position-by-position breakdown: Offensive line 02.20.16 at 6:06 am ET
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Injuries to the likes of Sebastian Vollmer (76) affected the Patriots' offensive line all season. (Ed Mulholland/USA Today Sports)

Injuries to the likes of Sebastian Vollmer (76) affected the Patriots’ offensive line all season. (Ed Mulholland/USA Today Sports)

With the Patriots done for the season, we’ve got an end-of-the-year position-by-position breakdown of where the Patriots stand and what figures to be the strengths and weaknesses for the team at that position going forward. We started our overview with the quarterbacks, secondary, the running backs, the linebackers and the wide receivers. Now we move on to the offensive line:

Depth chart: LT Nate Solder, LG Josh Kline, C Bryan Stork, RG Tre’ Jackson, RT Sebastian Vollmer, G Shaq Mason, G/C David Andrews, T Marcus Cannon, T Cameron Fleming, T LaAdrian Waddle, G Chris Barker.

Overview: A breakdown is exactly what this group had in the second half of the 2015 season. The unit has already begun an overhaul from what was a tumultuous end to 2015. The line allowed four sacks of Tom Brady in the AFC championship and gave up a stunning 17 quarterback hits to the Denver defense. That combined with the pressure Brady felt throughout the second half of the season cost Dave DeGuglielmo his job and sparked the return from retirement of offensive line guru Dante Scarnecchia. In defense of DeGuglielmo, the entire starting group was never on the field at once in 2015, as starting left tackle Nate Solder went down in Week 5 against Dallas with an arm injury. Starting center Bryan Stork didn’t debut in the regular season until Week 9 against the Redskins. Still, the line was one of the bright spots in the first half of the season, as the Patriots were going about their offensive routine without seemingly missing a beat, as first-year players David Andrews (filling in for Stork at center) and guards Shaq Mason and Tre’ Jackson did their jobs at a very solid level. Age and health are two major concerns at the tackle spots. Solder has been remarkably resilient in dealing with testicular cancer and now a torn biceps. Vollmer, who turns 32 in July, has dealt with a bad back, concussions and a broken leg. He played in the playoffs with a bad ankle sprain when Joey Iosefa fell on it during the loss to the Jets in Week 16.

An re-dedication to the running game would start with an effort upfront to win one-on-one battles, something they could not do in the second half of the season on a regular basis and certainly failed at in the AFC championship. As we noted in the overview of the running backs, a big key to the Patriots’ running game in 2016 will be the continued development of rookie guards Shaq Mason (drafted out of Georgia Tech for his run-blocking skill) and Tre’ Jackson. If those two, along with third-year center Bryan Stork mature in the middle of the line, the Patriots’ running game could pick up where it left off when Lewis was injured.

The Patriots most certainly figure to address the top-tier depth of the offensive line through free agency (like Jacksonville’s Stefen Wisniewski) and/or in the higher rounds of the draft. The Patriots need to re-establish the toughness they showed after Week 4 in 2014, when they began winning one-on-one battles on a regular basis.

Who will stay? The easy ones are Solder (signed through 2017), Stork, Mason, Jackson, Andrews, Kline (signed through 2017). The question marks are Vollmer (signed through 2016) and Cannon (signed through 2016), Waddle, Barker

Who will go? Fleming.

By the numbers: 12 — The Patriots had twelve different starting offensive line combinations in 18 games this season, thanks to the injuries that began with Bryan Stork’s neck/concussion at the beginning of the season and carried through with Solder’s biceps, Vollmer’s ankle and the knees of Tre’ Jackson and Shaq Mason.

Read More: 2016 position-by-position breakdown, Cam Fleming, Dante Scarnecchia, Dave DeGuglielmo
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