FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) – The Patriots’ second-round draft pick arrived at mini-camp with his first NFL souvenir in hand already – a nice-sized welt on his nose.

“I was working out a couple of days ago and had an accident,” Sebastian Vollmer, the 6-foot-8, 310-pound offensive lineman, admitted after Saturday morning’s workout.

For Vollmer, 24, it’s a small part of a long journey to being drafted.

Vollmer grew up in Kaarst, Germany, playing soccer and swimming. He only started playing football in Germany when he was 14 yet managed to lead his prep school to two national championships. After Vollmer appeared in the Global Junior Championships in San Diego, U.S. college coaches lined up to talk to him.

He signed with Houston in 2004.

He knew very little English and was a 20-year-old, 250-pound tight end. Now he’s a 310-pound tackle who was All-Conference USA as a senior and played in the East-West Shrine game.

He was acquainted with the NFL while growing up in Germany, where NFL Europe has a strong presence. He said his road to success was simple: “Work hard, take the coaching, and everything else pretty much took care of itself.”

Still, he didn’t know what to expect in the NFL draft.

“I was sitting, hoping and praying. It was very exciting,” Vollmer said. “I was really happy I ended up here with such great coaching.” Vollmer said he plans to watch a lot of film and become a “football sponge” in the next few weeks.

“I think he’s certainly a developing player,” Patriots Coach Bill Belichick said. “I don’t think he’s had quite the football experience that quite the other football players have had, but he’s playing.”

Notes: Third-round draft pick Tyrone McKenzie, a linebacker from South Florida, went down after he tangled feet with another player during a passing drill Saturday morning and limped off the field. Belichick said after practice that he didn’t know McKenzie’s status. … Belichick said his departing messages to the 12 draft picks and five free agents at mini-camp varied.

“But generally speaking, they need to get into good condition, learn the material we’ve given them and take care of any bumps and bruises or any physical or personal issues that are outstanding,” he said.

AP-ES-05-02-09 1705EDT


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