|Despite lack of reps in camp, veteran Sebastian Vollmer remains easy choice for Pats at RT if healthy||08.04.15 at 4:49 pm ET|
FOXBORO – It’s been a quiet summer for right tackle Sebastian Vollmer.
The veteran, who underwent shoulder surgery over the offseason, has clearly been on a snap count to this point. Over the first week, Vollmer has seen some time, but the Patriots have shuffled a few different players at to the right tackle spot, including Marcus Cannon and Cameron Fleming.
When it comes to camp, the big German, who is entering his seventh season with the Patriots, is being eased back into contact. It makes sense for a 31-year-old who has struggled with back and knee injuries to this point in his career.
“(I’m) getting better,” he said. “Every day is about the same – just trying to improve on whatever it is. If it’s training room, running, whatever it is.
“I’m just working on myself,” he added. “You try and take every rep, but if you don’t, you at least get the mental part of it, so you know you’re assignments and work on that.”
Vollmer is coming off one of the best seasons of an already impressive career. The 6-foot-8, 315-pounder, who was named second-team All-NFL by Pro Football Focus for the second time in 2014 (he was second-team PFF in 2012, and a second-team All-Pro in 2010), figures to be the No. 1 choice to start at right tackle in 2015 for the Patriots, as long as he stays healthy.
“I keep doing what I’ve been doing,” he said. “(Just) trying to work at it and get better.”
He added: “I’m feeling like I’m just improving at my craft. That’s all.”
|Countdown to camp: Offensive line||07.23.15 at 11:12 am ET|
As training camp approaches, we’ll offer a position-by-position breakdown of the 2015 Patriots. We started with the wide receivers and moved on to the tight ends. Now, it’s the offensive line.
Depth chart: David Andrews (rookie), Tre Jackson (rookie), Chris Barker, Marcus Cannon, Cameron Fleming, Caylin Hauptmann, Josh Kline, Shaq Mason (rookie), Bryan Stork, Ryan Wendell, Jordan Devey, Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer.
THREE THINGS WE KNOW
1. While there are other players with more experience in the system, the new leader of the line is Bryan Stork. The FSU product, who remains the spiritual descendent of Logan Mankins (right down to the occasionally questionable facial hair, the nasty attitude and preternatural skill set), stepped into the center spot last year as a rookie and immediately stabilized the line. There were some durability issues as the season went on (he missed the AFC title game with a knee injury, and he was actually listed as questionable in the days leading up to the Super Bowl), but he was far and away the pick for New England’s Rookie of the Year in 2014. As long as he stays healthy, there’s no reason to think that Stork won’t be the Patriots’ franchise center for the next decade.
2. Nate Solder probably deserves a pass for any issues he may have had last season. The left tackle out of Colorado appeared to struggle at times over the course of 2014, but still managed to hold up well while protecting Tom Brady‘s blind side over the course of the season, and earned his first Super Bowl ring along the way. But in hindsight, the news that he had been treated for testicular cancer last spring means he fundamentally gets a mulligan for what happened in 2014. Bottom line? Solder isn’t the sort to make excuses, but we’ll give him an out here. Given a clean bill of health, we fully expect Solder to return to the same high-level status he enjoyed over the course of his first three seasons in the NFL.
3. While there are some questions about how he reacts under pressure, Tom Brady still remains really good at gauging the state of the New England offensive line. We’ve hit on this many times over the last few years, but it’s tough trying to quantify good offensive line play — in many cases, you don’t necessarily need the five best pure linemen. Instead, it’s the five who work the best as a unit, so it takes time to find the best combinations. While the Patriots were going through those issues at the start of the 2014 season, one of the things that appeared to help turn things around (in addition to the evolution of Stork) was a concerted effort from Brady to speed up his release times. It’s important to remember that things vary from week-to-week depending on opponent, scheme and personnel, but looking at Brady’s release times over the course of the 2014 season, it was clear that getting the ball out fast in the passing game was a real point of emphasis for the New England offense. (For a deeper dive into those numbers from last season, check out Ryan Hannable’s excellent story here.)
|Report: Sebastian Vollmer had offseason shoulder surgery||03.25.15 at 10:11 am ET|
For the Patriots, linebacker Dont’a Hightower isn’t the only player to have offseason shoulder surgery.
According to ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss, right tackle Sebastian Vollmer underwent shoulder surgery after the Super Bowl. The surgery has reportedly altered his offseason to more of a focus on rehabilitation rather than a traditional workout regimen.
The report adds the surgery was to Vollmer’s labrum, although it was never serious enough to keep him out of game action. Vollmer is spending time at Gillette Stadium now rehabbing the injury and is expected to be ready “for action when it counts.”
Vollmer was drafted in the second round of the 2009 draft and has spent all seven seasons in the league with the Patriots, emerging as one of the better right tackles in the league.
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
|Patriots offensive line at full strength vital to offense, Tom Brady’s success||01.07.15 at 7:00 am ET|
Not be to overlooked is the Patriots’ offensive line, especially with the group likely getting back to full strength this week against Baltimore, as Dan Connolly is set to return. This will be especially important going against a Ravens defense, which finished second in the regular season in sacks with 49.
“I’m just excited to be back at practice,” Connolly said Tuesday after missing the last two games with a knee injury. “I’m going to do my best to work in and try to get as healthy as I can. But it’s good to be back out.”
Just how important is a healthy offense line for the Patriots offense and Brady to be successful?
- Solder, Connolly, Stork, Wendell, Vollmer (7-1 record) — Weeks 5, 8-14: Brady: 214-320 (66.9 percent), 2,433 yards, 21 TDs, 6 INTs, 103.6 QB rating, 4 sacks
- Any combination besides above (5-3 record) — Weeks 1-4, 6, 7, 15, 16: Brady: 160-263 (60.8 percent), 1,675 yards, 12 TDs, 3 INTs, 89.8 QB rating, 17 sacks
It’s pretty clear having the starting offensive line together makes a huge difference for the offense, as well as Brady in a number of different ways. The biggest difference is sacks. In the same number of games (eight) there is a 13 sack difference between when the starting offensive line is playing and when they are not. In games not started by the regular offensive line, Brady has been sacked multiple times in five of the eight, and four times twice. In games started by the starting offensive line, they haven’t allowed a multiple sack game and had four games allowing zero sacks, which will be especially important this weekend against a strong Ravens defense.
“They’re great,” Connolly said of the Ravens’ pass rush. “[Elvis] Dumervil has got 19 sacks. They do a great job of getting to the quarterback. We’ve faced a lot of good D-lines this season. That’s nothing new in the NFL. It’s a lot of pressure on us to do a good job. That’s what we try to do every week. It’s our job to make sure Tom [Brady] stays upright, so that’s what we’re going to try to do this week, too.”
|Patriots OL needs to be better going into postseason||12.28.14 at 7:57 pm ET|
FOXBORO — If there is one thing to be hesitant about going into the postseason for the Patriots offense, it is the play of its offensive line.
Without starters Dan Connolly (knee) and Sebastian Vollmer (back), forcing a starting offensive line (left-to-right) of Nate Solder, Josh Kline, Bryan Stork, Ryan Wendell and Marcus Cannon Sunday against the Bills — Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo, particularly Garoppolo in the second half, were under constant pressure all game long.
Overall, the Bills hit Patriots quarterbacks six times and recorded four sacks in the game. This comes after last week’s game against the Jets where the Patriots were reshuffling their line all game without Connolly to give Brady more time, but allowed a season-high four sacks and 11 quarterback hits.
“We didn’t play very well. We just didn’t do our jobs,” Wendell said Sunday.
The Patriots did some reshuffling again against the Bills, as late in the first half the Patriots subbed out Kline, and replaced him with Wendell at left guard and Cameron Fleming at right guard. Then, just before the half Solder appeared to injure his right leg on a play he was called for holding on. He finished the last minute of the half before limping to the locker room. In the second half, Cannon moved to left tackle, so the line went: Cannon, Kline, Stork, Wendell, Fleming.
Missing key players in Connolly and Vollmer, then losing Solder in the game made things difficult to get any sort of continuity up front.
“It was a good opportunity to get some other guys some reps,” Wendell said. “We’re going to need everybody moving forward. You never knew who’s going to get called up, so a game like this was a great opportunity to get a lot of those guys more reps that they normally don’t get.”
|Cameron Wake on success against Patriots: Big players have to step up in big games and make big plays||12.11.14 at 6:00 am ET|
Wake has picked up 8.5 sacks in 11 career games against the Patriots, including two in this season’s opener, which make him one of the tougher defensive ends the Patriots go up against all year. Making matters even worse, since he is in their division they have to face him twice.
“It might help that we play them twice a year. That might throw the numbers in there a little bit,” Wake said of his success against the Patriots on a conference call Wednesday. “I feel like every time we go out there, usually it’s a big game. The minute I started playing boy’s club basketball, my coach told me big players have to step up in big games and make big plays. Obviously, these are big games when we come to face each other. I look at myself as a big player, and I feel like whatever I can do to help the team out, whatever my role is, and occasionally it is getting to the quarterback. I try my best to get the job done.”
The Penn State product lines up on the left side of the defense more often that not and says that is mostly because of his early years with the Dolphins when veteran Jason Taylor was occupying the right side, leaving no where else for Wake to go. With the success that he’s had, he’s continued to rush almost exclusively from that side.
This makes for an intense matchup each time the Patriots and Dolphins meet with Wake and Patriots right tackle Sebastian Vollmer.
“When you start to go after guys and start playing more and more and more, you get familiar with each other,” said Wake. “Obviously, he’s going to do everything to play to his strengths and so am I. That familiarity is something that you both have to overcome. He’s studying everything he can to make his day successful on Sunday and so am I. Another good football player, a guy who is going to battle you and fight you every day and every snap, every time we grind against each other.
|Patriots offensive line continues to make changes, struggling to find right combination||09.30.14 at 12:29 am ET|
The Patriots made a few changes to the struggling offensive line prior to Monday’s game against the Chiefs by starting two rookies — Bryan Stork at center and Cameron Fleming at right guard (his first time ever playing the position), as well as moving Dan Connolly to left guard.
In addition, the team deactivated Jordan Devey, who had started the first three games of the season. Even with the changes, it did not stick as the team continued to rotate players in and out almost every series throughout the game trying to find a combination that works.
Here is our breakdown of the line (left tackle to right tackle) for each of their 11 drives:
- Drive 1: Nate Solder, Dan Connolly, Bryan Stork, Cameron Fleming, Sebastian Vollmer (Punt)
- Drive 2: Solder, Connolly, Stork, Fleming, Vollmer (Punt)
- Drive 3: Solder, Connolly, Stork, Fleming, Vollmer (Punt)
- Drive 4: Solder, Connolly, Stork, Fleming, Marcus Cannon (Punt)
- Drive 5: Solder, Connolly, Stork, Fleming, Vollmer (Punt)
- Drive 6: Solder, Connolly, Stork, Fleming, Vollmer (Fumble)
- Drive 7: Solder, Connolly, Stork, Fleming, Vollmer (Interception)
- Drive 8: Cannon, Connolly, Stork, Fleming, Vollmer (Touchdown)
- Drive 9: Solder, Connolly, Stork, Ryan Wendell, Vollmer (Interception)
- Drive 10: Solder: Wendell, Stork, Fleming, Cannon (Touchdown)
- Drive 11: Cannon, Wendell, Stork, Fleming, Vollmer (Punt)
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