BOSTON (CBS) – For the struggling Patriots offensive line, getting any reinforcements back is a step in the right direction.
On Wednesday, tackle Sebastian Vollmer returned to the field for the Patriots after starting the season on the PUP list. While we shouldn’t expect much from the fourth-year tackle in this short week as he returns from a back ailment, just his presence on the line should help some Pats fans breathe a little easier.
“They’ve both been making good progress and we’ve taken another small step. Each day is a small step but in the end all those steps end up covering a lot of ground, and those guys have done that,” Belichick said of Vollmer and tight end David Fells, who also returned to the practice field Wednesday. “Taking them off [PUP], this is a small step. Working them into practice gradually is a small step, and if they continue to progress then we’ll continue to do more. If we need to back off a little bit, then we’ll back off a little bit until they’re ready to resume that progress. We’ll just take it day-to-day.”
Getting Vollmer and All Pro guard Logan Mankins back on the field will be key to the Patriots success this season (Mankins was taken off the PUP last week). So far this summer, both second-year linemen Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon are having a tough camp all around. What concerns me is their struggles in one-on-one situations — and the fact they can’t seem to win them.
Luckily Tom Brady was not on the field Monday night against the Eagles to suffer the consequences.
The youngsters are either over-thinking because they are unfamiliar with the players next to them, or they have a problem. I think they are thinking too much, and when Vollmer and Mankins return, this problem will clean itself up.
Vollmer should slide into the right tackle spot, letting Cannon become the backup, with Solder on the left, and Mankins and Ryan Wendell likely taking the duties at the two guard spots.
Whoever lines up, their job is to protect Tom Brady — the most important job on the field.
Also back at practice o Wednesday was tight end Daniel Fells, who was taken off the physically unable to perform list. Fullback Spencer Larsen is back after missing 12 practices, rookie cornerback Alfonzo Dennard is back after missing 16 sessions with a hamstring injury, and rookie safety Tavon Wilson was back after missing a pair of practices with a foot injury.
Newly signed running back/kick returner Jeff Demps was on the practice field and in full pads as well.
Players not on the practice field were safety Patrick Chung (shoulder), wide receiver Jabar Gaffney (leg) linebacker Tracy White (leg), offensive tackle Matt Kopa (ankle), tight end Visanthe Shiancoe (hamstring) and defensive lineman Gerard Warren (unknown).
Gaffney continued stint on the sideline had to worry the team. The Pats need the veteran receiver to get back in the mix.
Tracy White and Visanthe Shiancoe have both been missing for awhile, and Shiancoe may have to go. He’s been out since the beginning of camp and he doesn’t have any experience with this team. White is in the same boat as Shiancoe, but he’s played in this system before and understands what the Patriots want from him. He may need to get out there just to remind them of that though.
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