FOXBORO -- The screams were audible even for those watching on television. Sideline microphones picked up all they needed to know: Sebastian Vollmer was hurt, and he had sustained a serious injury.
It was later reported that Vollmer had broken his leg in the Oct. 27 win at home over the Dolphins. After surgery, he was placed on injured reserve and missed the remainder of the season.
During Thursday's OTA, the 6-foot-8, 320-pounder took regular reps at right tackle and seemed to be moving well on his feet. Afterward he smiled and joked with reporters about being yelled at by his coaches.
He seemed happy to be back at work.
"Anytime you get hurt it’s not a good thing," Vollmer said. "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."
As gruesome as the injury appeared to onlookers, Vollmer said he never questioned whether he would make it back onto the field.
"No. I don’t think you should have that," he said. "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."
Vollmer explained that part of the rehab process went beyond anything physical. He mentally had to trust his leg to work out and put it under some stress as he prepared to re-take the field.
"You take it step by step and eventually end up here," he said. "That’s kind of the way it goes for everyone that gets hurt."
Just as Vollmer calls his return "a good moment" for himself, it's an equally positive sign for the Patriots. Marcus Cannon filled in well at the right tackle spot last season, but the team's depth of experienced tackles would be lacking without the big German.
If Vollmer is healthy enough to start the season, it would allow Cannon to serve as a sort of super utility lineman -- one who can play either tackle spot as well as guard, where he's played on the right side in the past. Vollmer's presence should also provide a bit of a buffer for rookie Cameron Fleming to find his footing after reporting to the team earlier this week.
As the senior tackle on the offensive line, Vollmer's stability and understanding of the offense may also allow his teammates to get adjusted to new offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo, who's replacing longtime assistant Dante Scarnecchia.
"I think the expectation is the same – do your best," Vollmer said. "That’s what coaches do, they try to get us to play at the best of our abilities and we’re here to learn and show that we’re good enough."
For any help Vollmer provides his teammates by being on the field, he said he received theirs for months as he worked his injured leg off of it.
"Yeah, I mean, I spent a lot of time with those guys in the training room," he said. "It’s encouraging words, but also you’re not by yourself working. The other guys in there are either rehabbing or working out in the training room. It’s always good to see guys working toward the same goal. It might be eight to 10 months away but you still have that same goal and working hard."
About eight months after suffering a stomach-churning injury, he was at home on the field with his fellow linemen, sweating through his shirt. He didn't say he was back to full strength yet, but it looks as though he's on his way.
"Let’s take it day by day," he said. "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."