Michael Hoomanawanui getting up to speed in the Patriots offense
|09.06.12 at 12:55 pm ET|
FOXBORO — It’s been a hectic few days for Michael Hoomanawanui.
The tight end out of Illinois appeared to make the final cut with the Rams, and was cleared to be a part of the St. Louis opening day roster, only to be released on Sept. 2. He was quickly scooped up by the Redskins, made his way to Washington … only to be cut a couple of hours later.
The Illinois product was on the move again, this time to New England — the Patriots added to their growing list of tight ends on Wednesday when they signed him to a one-year deal.
‘It’s been a little hectic,’ Hoomanawanui said Thursday before practice. ‘Getting let go from St. Louis, being in Washington for a couple of hours, and then getting on the flight here … I’ve definitely seen the business — the whole business — in the last 48 hours. In the end, I’m glad to be here. I’m thankful for the opportunity and I’m ready to get going.’
The 6-foot-4, 263-pounder out of Illinois has played two seasons in the league, both with the Rams. Known more as a blocker in the mold of Rob Gronkowski (as opposed to the longer, leaner Aaron Hernandez), he has 20 catches for 229 yards and three touchdowns in 16 games. The 24-year-old, who was selected in the fifth round of the 2010 draft, is the fourth tight end currently on the New England roster, joining Gronkowski, Hernandez and Daniel Fells. (Visanthe Shiancoe is on IR for the year.)
While he’s undergoing a crash course in the New England offense, Hoomanawanui has a couple of things in his favor, including the fact that there are plenty of familiar faces from his days with the Rams, including former teammates Fells and Greg Salas. In addition, Josh McDaniels got a chance to see Hoomanawanui operate last season while he was the offensive coordinator in St. Louis.
‘It’s great, especially having guys like Fells here, Salas, coach McDaniels. Some other guys that I know from around the league. It’s a great team atmosphere. All business here. I’m loving it so far,’ he said. ‘[My background with Josh] helps tremendously, coming in here and being thrown in the fire right away. It definitely helps knowing him, knowing the offense from last year, a little different terminology. But in the end, it’s all pretty much the same.’
Hoomanawanui, who met Gronkowski and Hernandez at the 2010 combine, says that as a tight end, you can’t help but be excited to join the New England tight ends, saying it’s ‘fun to be a part of the group,’ both on and off the field.
‘It’s an interesting (meeting) room, in a good way,’ Hoomanawanui said with a smile. ‘It’s all business, but there are times where you can let loose, and after that get right back on page. But coach does a good job with everyone’s personalities, and it’s been fun to be a part of the group.
‘It was fun to watch [them last year]. Tight ends as a whole in this league, I think you guys can see the transition from what it was to what it’s becoming and how they help each and every team moving forward,’ he added. ‘To be a part of that through the game plan, like I said, anything I can do with my skill set to help them out moving forward will be good.’
Hoomanawanui does have some positional versatility, having lined up occasionally at fullback for the Rams. He said he did it on a limited basis when the Rams met the Patriots in the 2010 preseason at Gillette, a game where he finished with four catches for 53 yards and two touchdowns.
It’s something he could be asked to do in New England, as the Patriots have been looking for someone to consistently fill the role of part-time fullback all summer.
‘I wouldn’t say I call myself a fullback, but when I first got into the league, when I was here against the Patriots in the preseason, I started doing a lot of motioning,’ he said. ‘They put us in the backfield so we could have a threat with the possibility of running routes in the backfield. It’s been a fun learning experience.
‘I was kind of joking around — it’s kind of fun being a fullback because you can run around and hit somebody, as far as being an inline tight end and holding the point. I’ve embraced it. Like I said, anything I can do to help the team, it’s what I’m all about. If I have to block 100 plays or if I have to run routes for 100 plays.’