Patriots: Vollmer, Cannon Active vs. Bills, Greatly Helps OLine


Offensive linemen Sebastian Vollmer and Marcus Cannon are active for the New England Patriots for their game against the Buffalo Bills. Their return up front should greatly help the team this week, and going forward.

Despite their 9-0 start, the New England Patriots have arguably suffered worse injury luck than any other team in the NFL this season. The losses to Dion Lewis and Julian Edelman certainly hurt, but their multiple losses across the offensive line had really began to add up.

Working with a patchwork offensive line, Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense continued to soar, but the opposing pass rush has been much more intense in recent weeks.

Inactives for their Monday Night Football match-up against the Buffalo Bills have been announced, and while seeing names like Edelman and star linebacker Jamie Collins on there is far from ideal, the omissions of offensive linemen Sebastian Vollmer and Marcus Cannon is certainly a great site to see.

Cannon replaced Nate Solder at left tackle for the Patriots when he suffered a torn biceps early in the season. Cannon filled in admirably for Solder, but has missed the last five games with a lingering toe injury.

Vollmer has been a consistent force at right tackle for the Patriots over the years, but was forced into action at left tackle after the injuries to Solder and Cannon. Unfortunately, Vollmer suffered a head injury, and has missed the last two games for the Patriots.

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Cameron Fleming, who began the year on the Patriots’ practice squad, had to step up as the team’s left tackle while center Bryan Stork stepped up and filled in at right tackle. Fleming wasn’t perfect, but he did fill in admirably at left tackle. Stork stepped up and played an unnatural position for his team when they needed him the most, but he became a liability at right tackle.

It will be interesting to see how the Patriots mix and match their offensive line with Vollmer and Cannon suddenly back in the mix. Fleming probably earned a shot to keep his position, but the Patriots clearly believed much more in Vollmer (obviously) and (more notably) Cannon just a few weeks ago. Has that much really changed in such a short period of time?

Also, what happens to Stork now that he is not needed at tackle? Does he step back in as the team’s starting center? Perhaps, but undrafted rookie David Andrews has been so good in his absence this season. Jumping into a rotation at guard is certainly possible for Stork as well, but Josh Kline and rookie Shaq Mason have been great at guard for the Patriots this season.

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While there are no superstars, all of a sudden, the Patriots have some nice depth up front. It will be very interesting to see how they mix-and-match their offensive line through this match-up with the Bills. We will find out soon enough!