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FOXBORO (CBS) – The New England Patriots got offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer back at practice on Wednesday.
Vollmer did not practice last week, and missed Monday’s season opener in Miami with a bad back. His will be a welcome return to an offensive line that just lost their starting center in Dan Koppen.
Koppen is expected to miss 6-10 weeks after breaking his left ankle.
Now Dan Connolly will be snapping the ball to Tom Brady, something he has done in practice as a backup.
“Dan has been here for a few years, he’s been on the practice squad, he’s been on the roster, he’s played center, he’s played guard, he’s returned kickoffs, so he’s been a pretty versatile guy for us in playing all the inside positions really and playing in different roles,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said on Wednesday.
“I’ve known Dan Connolly for awhile. He’s been in there at center quite a bit – minicamps, training camps, we’re always preparing for guys playing multiple positions,” said Brady. “He’s done a good job with that. He did a damn good job the other night, stepping in. He’s going to need to be able to do that for the foreseeable future.”
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“He understands the system, he understands the calls. When you play right guard and you have to move over to center you know all the center’s calls. He’s been a backup center for a long time and he’s expected to go out there and perform very well, as he’s done at right guard,” added Brady.
Playing multiple positions on the Patriots offensive line is nothing new. Rookie Nate Solder shifted from left to right tackle on Monday to take Vollmer’s spot, and filled in very well.
Now it is Connolly’s turn to show his versatility.
“All those guys have some position flexibility. Coach always says ‘the more you can do around here. If you only do one thing, you better do it really well.’ Obviously those guys have to play multiple positions,” said Brady.
In addition to Vollmer’s return, Brandon Spikes, Jermaine Cunningham, Shane Vereen and offensive lineman Ryan Wendell were back at practice, after missing Monday night’s game.
There were a few Patriots absent from Wednesday’s practice. Cornerback Leigh Bodden and defensive lineman Mike Wright were both out as the Patriots get ready for their home opener Sunday against the San Diego Chargers. Wright missed several games last season with a concussion, so him re-appearing on the practice report with one is a big cause for concern.
Here is the Patriots Practice Participation report for Wednesday:
Did not practice
CB Leigh Bodden (back)
C Dan Koppen (fibula)
DL Mike Wright (concussion)
S Josh Barrett (thumb)
LB Dane Fletcher (thumb)
LB Gary Guyton (hamstring)
WR Taylor Price (hamstring)
OL Sebastian Vollmer (back)
OL Ryan Wendell (calf)
DL Myron Pryor (groin)
Tune in to the Patriots-Chargers game Sunday at 4:15pm on 98.5 The Sports Hub and WBZ-TV. Tune in to Patriots Gameday at 11:30am on WBZ-TV and The Sports Hub’s pregame coverage, beginning at 1pm. After the game tune in to the Postgame show on 98.5, and to Patriots Fifth Quarter on TV38.