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INDIANAPOLIS — Two Patriots offensive linemen underwent surgical procedures recently. According to league sources, Sebastian Vollmer had his right knee scoped on Wednesday and Dan Connolly had a procedure on his right shoulder last week.
Vollmer’s surgery was termed postseason maintenance, but the knee — not his back — is the reason he struggled during the final weeks of the season. He had a procedure on his back last offseason.
Before missing the Patriots’ Thanksgiving night game against the Jets, Vollmer had allowed just one sack and 14 pressures. But in the final seven games, including the playoffs, he allowed 5½ sacks and 23 pressures.
The surgery is considered minor, especially for an offensive lineman, and will not affect negotiations between the free-agent-to-be and the Patriots (or another team).
The Patriots could use the franchise tag to retain Vollmer, but that is considered unlikely, according to league sources.
Connolly, 30, is expected to be ready for training camp. Signed to a three-year contract before last season, presumably to be the starting center, the Patriots had to bump Connolly to right guard when Brian Waters opted not to rejoin the team. When the shuffling was over, Ryan Wendell became the starting center.
Connolly started 14 regular-season games at right guard, missing the Arizona game because of a concussion suffered in Week 1. He also missed the game against the Colts with a back injury.
He was listed as limited in practice on the team report for the rest of the regular season because of his back.
There is one rather tall tight end wandering around Indianapolis this week who bears a striking resemblance to former Patriots tight end Christian Fauria.
It is UCLA product Joseph Fauria, the nephew of Christian, who played with the Patriots from 2002-05.
Even though Joseph was only 5 when his uncle was drafted in the second round by the Seahawks in 1995, he said this week that seeing that event made him want to follow in his uncle’s footsteps.
Fortunately for the youngster, he grew to 6 feet 7 inches, 259 pounds, and tall, pass-catching tight ends with basketball backgrounds are all the rage in the NFL.
Of his 46 receptions in 14 games for the Bruins last fall, 12 went for touchdowns. That is where he differs from his uncle.
“The tight end position has changed tremendously since he played, and we’re different players,’’ the 23-year-old Fauria said. “I can be called more of a receiving tight end, compared to him being more of a blocking style.
“There are some similarities: our drive and our passion for the game; we share the same blood.”
Though the position has changed, some things in the NFL haven’t, and Fauria said his uncle, who played 13 years in the league, has been advising him every step of the way.
“He’s helped tremendously throughout this process, he helped me with picking an agent, with advice, what I need to work on, what I need to look out for, and just getting me prepared for you guys [in the media] and all that stuff,” he said.
One of the things Christian told Joseph that has stuck with him is “to stay grounded, know where I come from.”
Carpet pulled out
Tight end Rob Gronkowski was slated to work the Oscars red carpet for NFL Network on Sunday, but news came on Friday that the Ravens’ Ed Reed was now getting the gig. It is believed the Patriots influenced Gronkowski’s decision to pull out of the appearance . . . Cross Myron Pryor and Jake Ballard off the list of players in contract discussions. Because both spent the entire season on the physically unable to perform list, by rule their contracts will toll to 2013 and they’ll remain with the Patriots. Pryor was slated to become a free agent this year, while Ballard was an exclusive-rights free agent.