Vollmer back at practice, still 'day-to-day'


Vollmer back at practice, still 'day-to-day'

By Phil Perry

FOXBORO -- The way Nate Solder played on Monday night may afford the Patriots to be a little more cautious with Sebastian Vollmer's back injury. But Vollmer, who sat out of the Patriots win in Miami, has been practicing this week and hopes he's well enough to play Sunday against the Chargers.

"Good to get back out there," Vollmer said. "We'll have to see about me playing Sunday. So far, I'm out at practice and doing what I can. Trying to get better. When it feels right, it feels right."

Vollmer underwent back surgery while at the University of Houston but would not say that his current injury goes back to his college days.

"Im only looking forward," said Vollmer. "Its day-to-day, well see what happens."

While Vollmer was non-committal when he discussed his status for Sunday, his coach said he expected Vollmer to play -- as well as the team's two other tackles Matt Light and Solder.

"I'd expect all three of those guys to play," Belichick said Friday. "Light, Solder, Vollmer. I'd think they'd all play."

Solder was solid at right tackle going up against one of the best pass-rushers in the league in Miami's Cameron Wake. The rookie from Colorado was called for one hold and allowed Wake one sack, but Solder showed good footwork and often finished plays by smothering Wake into the turf when Wake tried to get low and rush around him.

Vollmer said he wasn't surprised by the rookie's debut.

"You expect certain things," he said. "He stepped up to the plate and had a good game."

He went on to explain that the Patriots emphasize versatility on the line so that when injuries happen, they're able to compensate. It's why Solder -- brought in as a left tackle -- was able to fill in at right tackle. It's also why Dan Connolly made such a quick transition from guard to center when Dan Koppen left Monday night's game with a broken ankle.

"That's what we do in practice and in training camp," Vollmer said. "You learn each position and try to prepare as well as you can for it. Step in and do good."

Follow Phil Perry on Twitter at @PhilAPerry.

Belichick: Patriots have caught up after starting offseason 'five weeks behind'


Belichick: Patriots have caught up after starting offseason 'five weeks behind'

FOXBORO -- After starting the offseason "five weeks behind," as Bill Belichick put it, the Patriots have caught up. 

"I think we’re probably caught up to where we are now," he said before Thursday's OTA practice at Gillette Stadium. "I think it’s being behind in draft, free agency and that type of thing.

"I think at this point, we’re ready for OTAs. We’ll be ready for training camp. I think that part of it we’ll be on schedule on. It’s the catching up on all the spring projects, draft and free agency. It’s the initial part of it."

Belichick made headlines on the morning after winning his fifth Lombardi Trophy with the Patriots when he said, "As of today, and as great as today feels and as great as today is, in all honesty we're five weeks behind in the 2017 season to most teams in the league. Fortunately we have a great personnel staff

"Look, in a couple weeks we're going to be looking at the combine, obviously the draft, all-star games have already occurred, and in a month we're into free agency, not to mention all the internal Patriots players (whose) contracts are up and we're going to have to work with in some form or fashion like every team in the league does."

Leaning on evaluations of players that began in the build-up to previous drafts, Belichick and his staff opted to trade away some of this year's draft capital for veterans like Brandin Cooks, Kony Ealy and Dwayne Allen. They also gave up their fifth-rounder to sign restricted free agent Mike Gillislee.

Before heading out to the team's third practice of the week -- the first week the Patriots were allowed to introduce helmets and run offense versus defense periods -- Belichick said that part of his focus will be spent on finding out how those players he picked up this offseason are progressing.

"Yeah, that’s definitely part of it," he said. "Seeing the new players, how they’re doing and also how they’re doing relevant to the rest of the other players that I’m a little more familiar with. Again, each year is a new year, so even though we’ve seen some of these guys multiple years, it’s still starting all over again, seeing where they are, how they’re progressing in their training and preparation for the season."