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Michael Hoomanawanui ecstatic to be back: ‘No place I wanted to be more than here’

05.22.14 at 11:56 am ET
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Michael Hoomanawanui speaks with reporters Thursday at Gillette Stadium. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Michael Hoomanawanui speaks with reporters Thursday at Gillette Stadium. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — These are exciting and extraordinarily busy times for Michael Hoomanawanui. The Patriots tight end avoided a harrowing trial in free agency by re-signing with the Patriots in March for two years and $2.4 million, with $500,000 guaranteed. He fulfilled a long-time ambition and goal by flying with the Blue Angels on a 45-minute mission. He’s become a leader in the Patriots locker room.

And he’s been going back and forth to Hawaii to prepare for his summer wedding.

Busy times indeed.

But Hoomanawanui said Thursday morning, taking time from his workout program at Gillette Stadium that he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Everything is going good. Getting ready for a wedding July 12. It’s kind of nice to be back here, get away from the planning a little bit. But it’s definitely exciting. Going to get back home this weekend, do some more planning for it. We’re almost finished and it’s a real exciting time for us,” Hoomanawanui said.

“My finance is from Hawaii and lot of my family is there, too. It should be a pretty big one, should be fun.”

But before the fun could be had, there was the business of signing back with a team that has shown faith in his skills and his underrated reliability. Was he happy to get that call from Bill Belichick in early March that the team would be bringing him back?

“Absolutely,” he said. “There’s no place I wanted to be more than here. Going into my fourth year in this offense. It definitely helps spring me into this offseason, helping the other guys and taking on a leadership role now. Going into my fifth year, sounds crazy just to say that but it’s definitely been a blessing and looking forward to an offseason of working with the younger guys and getting this thing going.

“It means the world to me for them to have the trust in me, come back re-sign me, Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick, definitely means the world to me. When I got that phone call that they wanted me back it really meant a lot and I’m just glad to be back.”

Hoomanawanui has proved to be much more than just a serviceable tight end in the Patriots’ complicated offensive scheme. He caught 12 passes in 13 games (10 starts) for 136 yards and a touchdown last season. This came after just five catches in 2012, as he learned the Patriots’ system in his first season in New England.

Once back in the fold, Hoomanawanui had the juggling of his personal life along with learning more and more of the Josh McDaniels offense he first learned with the Rams in 2010. So, this offseason has been far from routine for the 25-year-old tight end.

“A little different, obviously with the wedding, a lot time going to that,” Hoomanawanui said. “But the Blue Angels experience was something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time and had the opportunity to do it and went up there for about 45 minutes, flew around.”

Why was that so significant to Homman?

“They showed me what their daily life is like,” he said. “It’s neat to compare to what it is to us, being part of a team, the daily routine they go through. It’s pretty cool. It’s definitely something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.

“[They have] long days, they wake up at the crack of dawn, they don’t leave until it’s dark out. Their workouts, their practice, their meeting times. Everyone just sees the show sites and their shows on Saturdays and Sundays. And it’s kind of what people would see out of us on Sundays, Mondays or Thursdays or whatever it may be. But they don’t see all the work that goes behind it. The training camp they have in wintertime, we have in summertime. All that stuff. There’s definitely a daily routine. It’s pretty neat.”

As for his world, Hoomanawanui earned his return to Foxboro because he showed he could perform a number of different roles in the offense and do them well, including being a receiving tight end, a blocking tight end and a very reliable ‘H-back’ in the Patriots’ power formations. He said Belichick didn’t make promises about how he’ll be used when they talked in March.

“Not really specifics. It’s more like ‘we’ve like what you’ve done and we think you can help,’ things like that. We had a nice long conversation. The main thing is that I’m back here. I think that says the most about it,” Hoomanawanui said.

“Learning so many veterans, guys that have played multiple, multiple years. Just learning from them each and every day, seeing their work ethic, the time they put in. It’s definitely helped me grow and take on that leadership role and show the younger guys how it’s done. It’s not easy to play in this league, let alone here, especially in our offense. It’s not the easiest thing but once you get it you can be very valuable to this team and this offense. Just trying to get all the new guys coming in [acclimated] and show them the way.

“The old adage ‘the more you can do’ [applies]. Whether it’s on special teams, obviously on offense, being able to move around, the end of the line, off the line, move around into an H-back, fullback role, I think that’s definitely helped. Hopefully, I can keep on doing that and have a spot on this team.”

No one right now is expecting Hoomanawanui to become the next Jimmy Graham or even Rob Gronkowski. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t trying to learn from them at every turn this offseason.

“I realize my role in the passing game hasn’t been what Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski have done but it’s definitely something I’m working on and hopefully it can be a part of this season,” Hoomanawanui said.

“Who doesn’t want to be that guy. I’ve spent a lot of time this offseason looking at quote, unquote the best tight ends in the league and hopefully, we can learn from that, myself and all the other guys. Anything you can put in that toolbox you’re definitely looking to do. There’s a million things that go into running a route the right way, reading the defenses, getting open, releases, there’s so many things. You take something each day and put it in that toolbox and hopefully get better.”

And with Gronkowski’s availability in serious doubt to start the season, Hoomanawanui figures to see a bigger work load.

“I kind of put that on myself. You always want to be ready, no matter the situation,” he said. “Over the last couple of years, that’s been the case. I’m preparing myself the way I do each and every day and each and every week. If that’s the case, I’ll be ready.

“I still have to wake up every morning, come to work and put on my hard hat and get it done. There’s definitely a thought [about replacing Gronkowski at the start of season] but not much more than that. I still have to wake up every morning, come to work and make my spot on the team.”

Read More: Gronk, Hooman, Michael Hoomanawanui, New England Patriots
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