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Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Sebastian Vollmer expected to play?

By James Walker

INDIANAPOLIS -- With all the talk surrounding New England Patriots Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski, the back and foot injury to teammate Sebastian Vollmer is flying under the radar.

But the potential return of Vollmer, New England's starting right tackle, could be very impactful to the Patriots' offense, as well. Vollmer missed seven games, and would provide a big boost to blocking the fierce defensive line of the New York Giants.

Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia told WEEI.com that Vollmer will be ready for Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday.

"He'll play. He'll play in this game at some point, whether we have Nate [Solder] outside or him at tackle," Scarnecchia told the radio station. "He's going to be out there, and thank God we've got him."

New England hasn't been very forthcoming with its key injuries to Vollmer and Gronkowski. But back-channel info from Gronkowski's father and Vollmer's position coach at least sound promising.

Gronkowski wasn't wearing a boot Tuesday, and says he's making good progress. He deemed himself "day to day." Even if Gronkowski is limited, his presence will force the Giants' defense to account for him.

Vollmer can pair with Solder at right tackle. This season, New England ran three-tackle sets with Matt Light on the left side and Vollmer and Solder on the right. That provided a big boost in pass protection and the running game, which will be needed against New York's defense.