Vollmer (back) aims for Sunday return

Chris Forsberg/ESPN Boston

OT Sebastian Vollmer talks with reporters at his locker on Friday.FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots third-year offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer deemed himself "day-to-day" with a lingering back injury that kept him out of Monday's season-opener in Miami. Vollmer returned to practice this week and said he's hopeful he can be back on the field during Sunday's home-opener against the San Diego Chargers.

Vollmer underwent surgery on his back during his sophomore year at the University of Houston, which makes the current injury an area of concern, but he sidestepped a question on if the two were related.

"I’m only looking forward," said Vollmer. "It’s day-to-day, we’ll see what happens."

Rookie tackle Nate Solder, who started in Vollmer's place Monday, had said earlier this week that it was Vollmer's starting gig and he was happy just to fill in. The two locker neighbors appear to be fast friends, with Solder playfully lobbing tape at Vollmer as he departed for the practice field on Friday.

Asked if Solder's solid play surprised him, Vollmer said, "I don't think surprise is the right word. You expect certain things and he stepped up to the plate and had a good game."

If Vollmer is able to get back on the field Sunday, Belichick hinted all three tackles could play, which might lead to a rotation at right tackle position in order to ease Vollmer back in, while generating additional game reps for Solder.

Vollmer did note that there's little you can do to speed up the injury recovery process, even as frustrating at it can be to see teammates go down, like center Dan Koppen, who broke his ankle in Monday's opener.

"You never want to see anyone get hurt -- on our team or the opponent's team," said Vollmer. "Obviously, [Koppen] has been here for a long time and played some good football. It's tough, but then the other Dan [Connolly] stepped in and played good. That's what it's all about."