Vollmer's return to practice a boost

TAMPA -- Offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer was among a handful of previously injured players who returned to practice Wednesday, as the Patriots held the first of two joint sessions with the Buccaneers at Tampa's team headquarters.

The practices are being held in advance of Friday's preseason game between the teams at Raymond James Stadium.

Given some of the struggles of the team's offensive tackles in the first two preseason games, Vollmer's presence is welcome and he was inserted immediately into the first-unit at right tackle in place of second-year man Marcus Cannon during the warmup part of Wednesday's practice.

Vollmer, who was limited in 2011 with back and foot injuries, had opened camp on the physically unable to perform list. Earlier on Wednesday morning, Bill Belichick said Vollmer had previously begun practicing with the team, likely referring to Saturday's walkthrough session.

In addition to Vollmer, tight end Daniel Fells -- who also opened training camp on the physically unable to perform list -- was on the field for practice.

So too were fullback Spencer Larsen (missed last 12 practices with unknown injury), rookie cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (missed last 16 practices with a hamstring injury) and rookie safety Tavon Wilson (missed last 2 practices with left foot/ankle injury).

Rookie running back Jeff Demps also was on the field for the full-pads practice.

Injured players not spotted included 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).

Media members watched the first 30 minutes of practice before departing, per Buccaneers team policy.