It's not too much of a surprise, but maybe it's just that this New England team and their fan base have become desensitized to this brand of news. In order to clear space for newly acquired DT Isaac Sopoaga, the Patriots have placed OL Sebastian Vollmer on season-ending injured reserve.
Vollmer suffered a broken leg during Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins in a shield-your-eyes pile that heard his screams echo through the telecast. It's unfortunate for Vollmer who, after seemingly able to finally manage an oft-injured back, ranked as the eighth-best offensive lineman this season according to Pro Football Focus (LT Nate Soldier is the first). Relief duties will now fall upon the collective shoulders of third-year player Marcus Cannon and offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia.
Vollmer underwent surgery on Monday, and--most likely due to the severity of the fracture--the Patriots determined that the recovery timetable won't see him back in time for a possible playoff push. Vollmer will also miss out on an incentive-laden contract payout that is directly correlated with playing time, a safeguard the Patriot front office created when they signed Vollmer to a four-year, $27 million deal this offseason.
The Patriots have done a marvelous job adapting on the fly after losing DT Vince Wilfork and LB Jerod Mayo for the year, but this one will be particularly tough to overcome. Vollmer was critical in run-blocking and pass protection, and while Scarnecchia will undoubtedly have Marcus Cannon playing at a high level, a lapse here and there spell doom as QB Tom Brady reads through his progressions.
This team, to their credit, has been incredibly resilient so far in the face of injury, posting a 6-2 record and a league-high two game divisional lead. The Patriots host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday and then receive a much-needed bye as they attempt to lick some wounds and prepare for the second half of the regular season.