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Sebastian Vollmer taking it ‘step by step’ in his return to the field 06.12.14 at 10:01 pm ET
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Sebastian Vollmer is carted off the field after breaking his leg last October. (AP)

Sebastian Vollmer is carted off the field after breaking his leg last October. (AP)

FOXBORO — Sebastian Vollmer is ready to put 2013 behind him. As a matter of fact, he admitted Thursday he’d rather not think about how it ended at all.

Who could blame him?

Anyone watching the Patriots and Dolphins on Oct. 27, 2013 on TV certainly will never forget how his season ended. The Patriots right tackle was moving outside to run block for Stevan Ridley when Dolphins nose tackle Randy Starks rolled up on his right leg. Sideline microphones picked up the yells of the 6-foot-8, 320-pound beast of a lineman who had just suffered a gruesome broken leg.

During Thursday’s OTAs, Vollmer returned and was moving freely with the first team offensive line, looking like a man ready to put the past in the past and leave it there. He even joked about being yelled at by coaches, a sign that he was indeed back and ready to put on the pads next week in mini-camp.

Whether he’ll be ready to take on the full load of a full training camp and be ready for the season opener against Starks and the Dolphins in Miami on Sept. 7 is another matter. And he’s more than ready to accept the reality of that deliberate pace.

“Let’€™s take it day by day,” Vollmer cautioned. “You work on some stuff every day in the training room, the rehab room, you know, on the field. You’€™re always working on something so you’€™re never there.

“Anytime you get hurt it’€™s not a good thing. You don’€™t really know what’€™s happening to yourself and take it step by step. You take it inside, talk to doctors and do what’€™s necessary and just work your way. It’€™s a strain. Every day you do rehab, you get better, you get stronger and all that stuff, looking forward. I’€™m back out here now and it’€™s a good moment for me.”

Vollmer felt from the moment he began to recover from surgery and begin his rehab program that he would be back on the field this summer, all along never doubting himself.

“No. I don’€™t think you should have that,” Vollmer said of skepticism and worry. “I trust our medical staff and rehab guys and we know we’€™re in good hands. You just have to do what they tell you to do. You have to work hard and I think that’€™s kind of what it comes down to.”

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Read More: Broken leg, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, nfl
Mike Petraglia, Chris Price on return of Vince Wilfork, Sebastian Vollmer and end of OTAs at 5:15 pm ET
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FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price talk about the return of defensive lineman Vince Wilfork, offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer and the conclusion of Patriots OTAs on Thursday outside Gillette Stadium.

Read More: Chris Price, Jason Anderson, Mike Petraglia, New England Patriots
Takeaways from our Thursday morning talk with Logan Mankins 04.17.14 at 1:49 pm ET
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Logan Mankins will be without Dante Scarnecchia this season. (AP)

Logan Mankins will be without Dante Scarnecchia this season. (AP)

FOXBORO — In addition to his dismissal of Brandon Spikes, here are three things we gleaned from our Thursday morning chat with Logan Mankins.

1. He sounds optimistic about the upcoming transition period for the New England offensive line.

For the first time since shortly after the earth cooled, Dante Scarnecchia will not be coaching the Patriots offensive line. It’€™ll be an interesting stretch for Mankins, who will be losing the only position coach he’€™s known at the professional level. However, Mankins said new offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo “seems like a great guy, and I look forward to working with him.”

“€œIt’€™s going to be a big change,”€ Mankins said when asked about moving on from Scarnecchia. “I was lucky enough to have him for nine seasons. I wish that could have continued. But he put in his time and he earned the right to retire. Last time I talked to him, he was enjoying life right now and he’€™s staying busy. But it will be a lot different. That’€™s the only o-line coach I’ve known for quite a while now, so, it’€™ll be a bit of a change.”

What does Mankins want out of a new coach?

“€œPersonally, I just want a coach that’€™s fair, he’€™s going to treat everyone the same — there’€™s no one on a pedestal,”€ he said. “I think I learned to appreciate that from Dante. He was a hard coach, but he was a fair coach. We always knew he had our backs. He demanded a lot of us, but I think that’€™s what made a lot of us good players. That’€™s why he was such a successful coach and lasted so long.”

2. He’€™s been working a lot with fellow guard Dan Connolly this offseason.

According to Mankins, for the first time in several years, both Mankins and Connolly aren’t dealing with any sort of offseason rehab for surgery. As a result, the two have been working together in the area to ‘€œget after it’€ for a few hours every morning. He said

“€œIt’€™s been a good partnership right now,”€ Mankins said. “In years past, I had surgeries, he had surgeries, we had the whole lockout thing. We used to (train) a long time ago until certain things changed that, so this year was nice to get back together.

“€œWe meet every morning at a certain time and get after it for a few hours then go home. It’€™s always nice to have someone to work out with, especially at your own position, that you are working on the same things,” Mankins said. “We’€™ve been pushing each other and it’€™s been working out well.”

Right now, Mankins said it’€™s just “€œthe big boys throwing around weights.”€ That will transition to the start of the offseason program on Monday, where coaches can get involved. At that point, it’€™s expected that more cardio will be worked into the mix. Mankins said center Ryan Wendell has also been present since re-signing about three weeks ago, while youngsters Jordan Devey and Chris Barker have also been present.

(For what it’€™s worth, Mankins also sounded an optimistic note on the state of right tackle Sebastian Vollmer, who went down in October with a season ending leg injury. “€œHe looks good right now, too. I don’€™t know his whole update right now, but he looks good and I know he’€™s working hard,”€ Mankins said of Vollmer. “There’€™s good promise there.”€)

3. There’€™s something to be said for continuity.

If everyone returns healthy, the Patriots will have a chance to utilize the same five starting offensive linemen they had at the beginning of the 2013 season — Vollmer (right tackle), Connolly (right guard), Wendell (center), Mankins, (left guard) and Nate Solder (left tackle).

“œIt’€™s always good,”€ said Mankins when asked about continuity. “We know what were doing, (but) it always comes down to making the right blocks and doing a good job. We like the group we have. We like the guys in that room. They’€™re all hard working guys and they try very hard and they work hard. I think we could have a good season together.

“€œI look forward to seeing everyone get back and everyone getting to work together finally,”€ he added. “€œIt’€™s always exciting, kind of like your first day back at school, I guess. You get to see everyone after the break, get to catch up with some friends you haven’€™t seen too much of lately, and get to work together, push each other, and see if other guys have been working as hard as you have.”

Read More: Chris Barker, Dan Connolly, Dante Scarnecchia, Dave DeGuglielmo
Patriots position-by-position breakdown: Offensive line 02.03.14 at 1:46 pm ET
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Logan Mankins is the unquestioned leader of the offensive line. (AP)

Logan Mankins is the unquestioned leader of the offensive line. (AP)

With the Patriots done for the year, we’€™ve got an end of the year position-by-position breakdown of where the roster stands. We started with special teams, wide receivers, tight ends, running backs and quarterbacks. Now, it’s the offensive line.

Depth chart: T Nate Solder, G/C Dan Connolly, G/T Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, T/G Marcus Cannon, T Sebastian Vollmer, G Josh Kline, G/T Will Svitek, G Chris Barker, OT Markus Zusevics. (C/G Braxton Cave, T Jordan Devey and OL R.J. Mattes are all practice squadders.)

Overview: It was an up-and-down season for the New England offensive line. On many occasions, the group was able to do an excellent job buying time for quarterback Tom Brady to deliver the ball, as well as create sizable holes for backs like LeGarrette Blount to run through over the course of the season. However, there were times — and part of this was due in part to breakdowns in other areas, as well as injury — that the line struggled to hold up. Over the course of the season, the Patriots faced some of the best defensive front sevens in the league, and while they were frequently up to the challenge, there were times where they had issues, particularly in pass protection. Some of that can be blamed on the fact that, as a group, the offense was still searching for an identity and struggling with the acclimation of so many new faces. But don’t tell that to the offensive line, a group that continued to hold itself to an almost impossibly high standard regardless of the opponent and situation.

As a group, it was clear that health was an occasional issue. Vollmer had a leg injury that limited him to eight games, while Solder missed a game because of a head injury. As a result, the Patriots had to rely on versatility and depth to get them through some of the toughest points of the season. After Solder went down late in the loss to the Dolphins in Miami, Kline stepped in at left guard and Mankins played left tackle. The same combo faced the Ravens the following week, and held up impressively in the face of the stern Baltimore pass rush.

In the end, much of the mental toughness that eventually became the calling card of the 2013 Patriots came from the offensive line, and, by extension, Mankins. Now the second most senior member of the roster in terms of time in a New England uniform (he was drafted in 2005, and while there have been guys who have been in the league longer — Andre Carter, Isaac Sopoaga — only Brady has been with the Patriots longer than Mankins), he’s the leader of the line, and one of the premier leaders in the locker room. After nine years in the league, Mankins — who was named a second-team All-Pro for the fifth time in his career in 2013 — continues to set the standard.

Going forward, this group will be interesting to watch. The Patriots have a decision to make on pending free agents Wendell and Svitek, and Vollmer faces a return from a leg injury that prematurely ended his 2013 season. And then, there’s the question of how the group will react to the retirement of longtime offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, who leaves the franchise after 30-plus seasons. Stability, consistency and continuity have always been the watchwords of the New England offensive line, and as it enters a new era without Scarnecchia, the transition to new coach Dave DeGuglielmo will be something to watch in 2014.

Best moment: It’s shortsighted to measure an offensive line purely on sacks alone, but their work against the Falcons was pretty impressive — Brady wasn’t sacked in a September win in Atlanta. (The only game all season he wasn’t sacked.) The stretch drive the group was able to put together over the final three regular season games and the first playoff game, clearing the way for Blount to carry the offense on his back, particularly against the Bills, Ravens and Colts.

Worst moment: Probably the singular worst series for the New England offensive line was coming out of the half for the start of the third quarter against the Jets on Oct. 20: the first six offensive plays for the Patriots went as follows: sack/interception/four-gain gain/five-yard gain/no gain/sack. It’s tough to lay all that at the feet of the New England offensive line, but by Mankins’ own admission, it starts up front, and the line wasn’t able to get the job done. By the end of the quarter, a 21-10 lead turned into a 27-21 deficit, and ended up in an overtime loss. For more from Mankins on that breakdown, click here.

By the numbers: 1,218. The number of snaps played by Wendell this season, tied with Brady for most on the team.

Money quote: “I’ve coached a lot of tough guys. I don’€™t think there’€™s any that I would put ahead of him. Maybe some on that level, but none ahead. Anytime Logan needs help getting off the field, you feel like it’€™s something serious. Usually he ends up just staying out there, but for him to need assistance getting off the field was definitely a concerning moment. Then when [head athletic trainer] Jim Whelan came back and told me, as you mentioned, after the next series that Logan was back, I was a little bit surprised to hear that. He’€™s a tough individual, tough-minded, physically and mentally tough.”€ — Bill Belichick on Logan Mankins

Read More: Dan Connolly, Dante Scarnecchia, Dave DeGuglielmo, Josh Kline
Sunday NFL Notes: Could Sebastian Vollmer contract serve as blueprint for new deals for Aqib Talib, Julian Edelman? 02.02.14 at 6:00 am ET
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Aqib Talib is set to be a free agent. (AP)

Aqib Talib is set to be a free agent. (AP)

1. When it comes to re-signing their own players, wide receiver Julian Edelman and cornerback Aqib Talib are the two most intriguing free agents for the Patriots to worry about this offseason. Both played a huge role in the success of the 2013 team, and both are scheduled to hit the market in March. But at the same time, both have injury questions — Talib has been hobbled by various maladies over the course of the last couple years, and hasn’t been able to finish the last two AFC title games. Meanwhile, 2013 represented the first time in his five-year career that Edelman was able to play a full season free from injury. Going forward, it wouldn’t be a shock to see the players, their representation and the franchise set up a deal laden with playtime incentives, not unlike what the team did last offseason with Sebastian Vollmer. The right tackle, who has suffered through his share of injury issues, was able to put together a four-year, $17 million deal with the franchise last March that was structured largely around playtime incentives. The contract included roster bonuses of $1 million in years two through four that were contingent on him playing 80 percent of the offensive snaps in the prior season. In addition, another $9 million could be achieved through incentives based on playing time and Pro Bowl berths. While the money and years would be different, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Patriots try the same maneuver with both Talib and Edelman this time around. (For what it’s worth, Edelman was a guest with SVP & Russillo this week from the Super Bowl, where he was working on behalf of Delta Airlines. His feelings about being at the Super Bowl instead of playing in it? “It sucks,” he said. “It flat-out sucks.” To listen to the rest of the Q&A, click here.)

2. It’s difficult to remember now, but the current run of success of the Seahawks can be traced back in some ways to their Oct. 14, 2012 game against the Patriots in Seattle. To that point, the Seahawks really weren’t much of a player, at least on the national scene. They were 3-2, but had suffered ugly losses to Arizona and St. Louis. Coach Pete Carroll had decided to go with a rookie quarterback in Russell Wilson, and no one quite knew what to make of them. But after going down 23-10 to the Patriots at the start of the fourth quarter, they showed the requisite mental toughness that would soon become their calling card, posting two fourth-quarter touchdowns and holding New England scoreless down the stretch. It was also clear that the Seattle secondary was poised for greatness with some terrific plays, including this scary shot on Wes Welker. The postgame scene gave us this memorable image of Richard Sherman woofing at Tom Brady, and this past week, Sherman said that was the game that gave the current group of Seahawks the idea they could be something special. “That was when it dawned on us that we could be great, in that Patriots game,”€ Sherman said. “€œEarl [Thomas] could’ve had a multiple-pick game –€” he was running around everywhere –€” and we saw how elite we could be, because we were playing against a Hall of Fame quarterback. That really builds confidence.”€ For what it’s worth, the Seahawks have gone 20-6 in the regular season since that game.

3. Two of the Seahawks talked this week about nearly becoming Patriots. Seattle defensive tackle Red Bryant told the Boston Globe that he came close to signing with New England when he was a free agent in 2012. “I had an opportunity to go there; they’€™ve got a great history, great tradition, I have the utmost respect for coach Bill Belichick and Tom Brady and Mr. Robert Kraft,” the 6-foot-5, 325-pound Bryant said on Thursday. “My big brother, Ty Warren, he played there and I called him and he gave me a background on what it would be like and the expectations and it would have been a great opportunity. The only thing that kept me was my love for this team and I envisioned us one day making it to a Super Bowl.” Bryant ended up signing a five-year, $35 million contract with $14.5 million guaranteed to stay with the Seahawks. Meanwhile, wide receiver Percy Harvin talked about the fact that he was very nearly taken by the Patriots in the 2009 draft. “They had a workout — it was two days before the draft. I knew it was either going to be Minnesota or Belichick with the next pick. They were actually on the phone trying to trade up and flip-flop,” Harvin said. “Belichick and (Ohio State Head Coach Urban) Meyer have been friends for so long. Belichick visited Florida when Meyer was there, frequently, pretty much every year, so we were familiar with each other. So it came close.”

4. Seeing the practice reports this week from the Broncos and Seahawks, it’s important to remember that the practice week in the days leading up to the Super Bowl may simply be about fine-tuning things before the big game. But at the same time, how well you practice in those final few days can be a good indication of where the team is heading into the contest — a few members of the 2007 Patriots have recalled over the years that their final week of practice in the days leading up to Super Bowl XLII were some of the worst practices they had that year. Troy Brown said the week was “atrocious,” and added that the Patriots couldn’t do the simplest of things over the course of the week. “We couldn’€™t complete, not even one-on-one passes. … Quarterback-center exchange, handoffs, the basic things of football, we could not perform during the course of the week,” he said. “We left the field one day and just called practice, came back the next day and had two Friday practices just to try to get caught up because we were so far behind. Practice, it was bad. I’€™ve never seen a team, especially a championship team, perform that way during the week.”€ That team had a unique set of pressures coming to bear against them, so it’s easy to understand that things may had reached a breaking point with them by the time they got to the Super Bowl. But it certainly serves as a cautionary tale for other teams who might take their eyes off the prize with the finish line in sight.
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Read More: Aqib Talib, Julian Edelman, Sebastian Vollmer,
Patriots place Sebastian Vollmer on season-ending injured reserve 10.29.13 at 6:18 pm ET
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Sebastian Vollmer

Sebastian Vollmer

The Patriots placed Sebastian Vollmer on injured reserve Tuesday, which means the 2013 season has come to an end for the right tackle. Vollmer suffered a right leg injury in the first half of Sunday’s win over the Dolphins, and was replaced in the lineup by Marcus Cannon. He underwent surgery on the leg early this week.

Vollmer becomes the third high-profile member of the Patriots to land on season-ending injured reserve — defensive lineman Vince Wilfork and linebacker Jerod Mayo were lost to injury earlier in the year.

The 29-year-old Vollmer, a second-round pick out of Houston in 2009, has been a starter for the Patriots since he arrived as a rookie — the 6-foot-8, 320-pound German has played in 59 of a possible 72 games with New England. A free agent this past offseason. he signed a four-year, $17 million deal to return to the Patriots, and was playing some of the best football of his career before the injury — Pro Football Focus had him graded as the second-best right tackle over the first eight games of the 2013 season.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

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Report: Sebastian Vollmer to have surgery on right leg Monday 10.28.13 at 3:01 pm ET
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Sebastian Vollmer is scheduled to have surgery to repair a broken bone in his right leg on Monday, according to Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald. The right tackle, who has been a starter for the Patriots since he arrived as a rookie in 2009, went down in the first half of Sunday’s win over Miami. He was replaced by Marcus Cannon, who will likely play a sizable role down the stretch as a result of Vollmer’s injury.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Marcus Cannon, Sebastian Vollmer,
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