FOXBOROUGH – It’s always a little unsettling when television microphones pick up the pained screams of an injured NFL player as some of the biggest, strongest men in sports are cut down while we watch.
Such was the case last October when Miami’s Max Starks rolled into the back of Sebastian Vollmer’s legs while the Patriots’ big right tackle was blocking on a Stevan Ridley run.
Photos showed Vollmer’s lower right leg bent unnaturally, and you could hear Vollmer screaming on the CBS broadcast as he pounded the Gillette Stadium turf. He underwent surgery for a broken bone the next day, and was out for the rest of the season.
But Vollmer, who agreed to a four-year contract last year, has been on the field for all of the Patriots’ organized team activities that media have been allowed to see over the last three weeks, is well on the road back to top health.
“I’m excited to be out there, hanging with my teammates, working on things, trying to get better. It’s been pretty good,” he said after practice on Thursday.
It was the first time reporters have had the chance to speak with Vollmer since the injury more than seven months ago. He didn’t want to talk too much about what had happened, and how much pain he was in at the moment of his injury.
“Every time you get hurt, it’s not a good thing, you don’t really know what’s happening to yourself,” Vollmer said. “You just take it step by step, go inside, talk to the doctors, do what’s necessary and then work your way (back).
“It’s a strain; every day, you work, you do rehab, you get better, you get stronger, you’ve done surgery and all that stuff, and looking forward. I’m back out here now, so that’s a good moment for me.”
The German-born lineman, who didn’t want to talk about the World Cup and preferred to stick to American football, was one of several Patriots starters who landed on injured reserve last season. Those players encouraged one another as they worked to get better, and his other teammates were supportive as well.
“You spend a lot of time with those guys; you’re in the training room and there’s some other guys in there … You’re not by yourself working – there are other guys in there and they’re either rehabbing or they’re working out in the weight room, training room, so it’s always good to see guys and you’re kind of working toward the same goal,” Vollmer said. “It may be eight, 10 months away, but you still have that goal in mind and work hard.”
Asked if he’s gotten used to hearing a different voice – that of new offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo – yelling at him during these sessions, Vollmer quipped, “I have a lot of voices yelling at me.”
So far he likes DeGuglielmo, who replaced Dante Scarnecchia, who retired.
“You know, it’s like playing with a new player next to you: it’s a little bit of a change, but you get used to it,” he said of the switch. “That’s what we’re doing with this, getting used to each other. He’s coaching us hard and trying to get better.”