Vollmer pleased to take next step

TAMPA -- Fourth-year veteran offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer walked off the practice field following a full-pads joint session with the Buccaneers and smiled as he approached a group of reporters.

"It's been a while," he said, shaking the hands of those waiting for him.

Indeed it has, with Vollmer opening training camp on the physically unable to perform list after being limited to seven games in 2011 due to a combination of back and foot injuries.

So while some players might have been forced to "suck it up" -- as Bill Belichick put it in this morning -- Vollmer was more than happy to put himself through the grind of a nearly three-hour practice after officially passing his physical Saturday. In the early warmup part of practice, he lined up with the first unit at right tackle.

"It feels good to get some stuff done," he said, relaying that he didn't participate in team drills Wednesday but was part of 1-on-1s. "It's humid, but luckily it's not as hot."

Vollmer said he will follow the advice of the medical staff in terms of how much more he might do in Thursday's practice, which presumably won't be in full pads.

In addition, he set no timetable on if he will be ready to play in the season opener Sept. 9 at Tennessee.

"I have no idea. I'm obviously making progress, working as hard as I can, and if i'm ready, I'm ready. If I'm not, I'm not," he said. "I'm obviously hoping so and doing whatever I can to do it."

As for the last year, it hasn't been easy for him.

"It's a grind. You have to take care of your body," said Vollmer, who enters the final year of his contract. "You want to be out there and help your teammates and play with your team, so it's a good feeling to be back out here."