With Matt Light Injured, Sebastian Vollmer Era Begins


October 12, 2009

For most Patriots fans, the only time Matt Light is visible is when he's getting torched by a defensive end. That's not to say the nine-year veteran spends most of his time getting burned, but such is the life of an NFL left tackle.

For many teams, losing a left tackle to injury (as the Patriots did on Sunday) can often spell trouble. Look no further than the Ravens' loss to the Bengals on Sunday with Jared Gaither inactive.

For the Patriots, though, it wasn't much of a problem.

New England's offense was mostly stagnant in the second half, but that had nothing to do with the outstanding job done by rookie Sebastian Vollmer, who filled in exceptionally for Light.

A monster of a man at 6-foot-8, 315 pounds, Vollmer protected Tom Brady's blind side on passing plays and outmuscled opponents in the running game.

The 25-year-old native of Germany was drafted by the Pats in the second round of this year's draft — a move that many football insiders and experts considered a reach. In his action thus far, however, Vollmer has shown true potential as an impact player.

He logged some playing time in the season opener against Buffalo. Bill Belichick employed Light at tight end and used Vollmer to fill in at left tackle. The reason Light went to tight end was because the then-newly acquired Michael Matthews didn't have enough experience in the Patriots' system.

Belichick didn't have the confidence in a third-year Matthews, but he did believe in his rookie left tackle.

On Sunday, rather than sliding right tackle Nick Kaczur over to the left
side, Belichick opted to insert his rookie into one of the most
important positions in crunch time of a tight game on the road. In his first series in the fourth quarter, Belichick had the confidence to run the very first play to Vollmer's side, and Kevin Faulk picked up four yards. A few plays later, Sammy Morris picked up a five-yard gain behind Vollmer as the Patriots moved the ball out of their own end in a crucial spot in the game.

Later in the fourth, Brady fumbled on a sack, but Vonnie Holliday, who forced the fumble, made his way past Logan Mankins.

"Vollmer went in there. He's a good, young rookie," Brady said Monday on WEEI. "Smart kid, tough kid. He's out there because the coaches have a lot of confidence in him. It will be great for him to use this as a great opportunity for himself."

The Patriots didn't release any information on Light's injury after the game, and they probably won't unless it turns out to be a season-ending injury. However, Vollmer has inspired enough confidence in his head coach thus far to ensure that the left tackle position — and more importantly the safety of No. 12 — is in good hands.

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