Ojinnaka has to ‘bust his butt’ to protect Brady
|08.24.10 at 10:39 pm ET|
FOXBORO — It didn’t take Patriots offensive lineman Quinn Ojinnaka long to understand job No. 1 with his new employer in his first two practices this week.
The 26-year-old guard will start off on the second unit and second on the depth chart behind Dan Connolly as Logan Mankins is reportedly ready to hold out and Nick Kaczur is out indefinitely with back surgery, according to the Boston Herald.
If Connolly or another starter along the O-Line becomes unavailable for whatever reason, it will be the 6-5, 312-pounder who steps into the fold to help protect the franchise quarterback.
“It’s an upgrade with Tom Brady, a future hall-of-famer,” Ojinnaka began. “I’m not saying Matt Ryan wasn’t good. He’s a great quarterback or is going to be a great quarterback. You definitely have to bust your butt to make sure he doesn’t get touched. It was the same in Atlanta.
“You still have to work hard, study and get in your play books and bust your butt every day.”
While he rarely got the chance to show off his talent under Falcons head coach Mike Smith, Bill Belichick will expect him to be up to speed right away. That, after all, is why the Patriots traded for him over the weekend.
“It’s fast-paced,” Ojinnaka said following Tuesday’s practice. “I know coach Bill Belichick is really hard on his players, but not in a bad way but just to push him. That’s what I’ve heard. I’m adjusting to it. It’s been fun so far.
“It’s just the pace of how things move down here are just a tick faster than Atlanta, and that’s a good thing.”
Ojinnaka was thrilled to get the news over the weekend that he would be moving north – and not just because his new team prevailed over his old, 28-10, at the Georgia Dome.
“It hit me by surprise but I’m happy to be here, thought,” he said. “A rich tradition franchise like the Patriots, who wouldn’t be?
“It’s looks like I have a pretty good chance but at the same time, right now I’m just focused on learning the offense and playing football.”
Due to a domestic issue involving his wife in May 2009, and the fallout associated with that, Ojinnaka will have to sit out Week 1 before formally beginning to help his new team on the field.
“I haven’t really thought about the suspension,” he said. “It is what it is. I got suspended and I’m just moving on from that now. I’m not even thinking about that. Right now, I’m just focusing on football and helping the Patriots win.
“This is a definitely a new page, a chapter of my life. This is definitely a chance to start over with a new team, a new home.”
Expect to see Ojinnaka on the field this Thursday night for the Patriots as they take on the Rams in preseason game No. 3 and he starts all over again.