Vollmer's health back on radar

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Through the Patriots’ blowout victory over the Colts on Nov. 18, right tackle Sebastian Vollmer had been playing at a Pro Bowl level.

Now the picture is slightly altered, as Vollmer’s health concerns are back on the radar.

Vollmer was inactive for the Nov. 22 Thanksgiving win over the Jets (he’s been listed with back and knee injuries), and was a game-time decision for Sunday’s AFC East-clinching win over the Dolphins (he played but wasn’t up to his usual high standards).

It goes without saying that the Patriots need their best from Vollmer – the former University of Houston product – in Monday night’s matchup against the Houston Texans.

“I feel good,” Vollmer said Wednesday when asked about his health. “I was out there last week and it was fine. I’m just looking ahead to Monday.”

Vollmer, who missed most of training camp while recovering from an offseason procedure on his back, wore a knee brace as he was tested by doctors on the field prior to Sunday’s game. He was beaten by Dolphins end Cameron Wake for one crunching sack of quarterback Tom Brady, and had a holding penalty earlier in the game.

He won’t use injuries as an excuse.

“I don’t have day to day pain or anything like that. I feel really good, actually,” he said.

As for the Texans, the 6-foot-8, 320-pound Vollmer said he sees a well-coached defense and that the Patriots’ offense is “going to have our hands full, no doubt.” Vollmer said that defensive lineman J.J. Watt, whose sack total has been upped 16.5 on the season after Elias Sports Bureau added a sack from Sunday’s win over the Titans, “does what he wants out there, it seems at times.”

One other aspect to watch for with Vollmer is how his presence affects others on the line. Vollmer’s top backup at right tackle, Marcus Cannon, played two series at right guard in the second half of Sunday’s win and the Patriots might want to see more if starting guard Dan Connolly (back) is sidelined.

Just another reason why Vollmer’s presence has added importance to the Patriots.