|Ex-Patriots TE Michael Hoomanawanui now part of an exclusive club||08.10.16 at 1:24 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Michael Hoomanawanui knows how lucky a guy he is.
The big tight end is one of a handful of guys who have caught passes from both Tom Brady and Drew Brees. The 6-foot-4, 265-pounder spent three-plus years with the Patriots (2012-2015) before joining Brees and the Saints last year, when he caught 11 passes for 76 yards and three touchdowns in New Orleans.
“Not many people can say they’ve played with two of the greatest of all time,” said the 28-year-old following Wednesday’s practice session. “It’s a huge honor. I’ve learned a lot from both of them. I’m happy to be in New Orleans right now with Drew and look forward to the season.”
Asked how the two differ, Hoomanawanui was briefly stumped.
“Tom is a little taller? That’s about it,” he said with a smile. “Obviously, the numbers speak for themselves. I have nothing bad to say about either one of them.”
While the focus remains on the work and improving, the two days of joint practices this week in Foxboro were also a terrific opportunity for him to catch up with some old friends.
“It was good to see familiar faces, and obviously practice against one of the best,” he said. “It’s good to be back.”
|Bill Belichick closes the book on Michael Hoomanawanui: ‘We won a lot of games with him’||10.04.15 at 4:46 pm ET|
Before moving onto preparing for the Cowboys, Bill Belichick gave some props to a player he dealt away last week.
The Patriots head coach gave props to tight end Michael Hoomanawanui on Sunday during a conference call after he dealt the veteran to the New Orleans Saints for defensive end Akiem Hicks.
“[He] had a lot of position versatility, smart guy. We won a lot of games with him,” Belichick said.
Of course, Belichick wouldn’t have felt comfortable pulling the trigger on the deal if he didn’t feel Michael Williams, acquired in a deal with Detroit in August, hadn’t worked hard to get up to speed.
“I think Mike has done a good job coming in here and learning what we’ve asked to him to do in a relatively short period of time, and I think he’s got a good future in front of him,” Belichick said. “But again, all that being said, it wasn’t like we were looking to move on from Hooman, but you have to give up something to get something. So that was really more of the nature of that trade. I don’t think it was necessarily a commentary on, I mean, I feel good about our tight end situation, but again, if you want to get something, you have to give up something, and sometimes that’s what you have to do.
“I think Mike has done a good job, and I’m glad that we have him, and he’s learned. He wasn’t playing that position at Detroit. He was playing more of the tackle position, so it’s been a transition for him as far as learning what to do and re-acclimating his technique and so forth to the tight end position. He’s done a good job of that. It’s certainly a credit to him that he’s come as far as he has in the past few weeks in terms of making a position change and that type of thing. That’s been good, no question about that.”
As Chris Price noted, Belichick has been a wheeler dealer of late, not afraid to pull the trigger on trades if it adds a veteran for depth, even if that veteran is headed for free agency at the end of the season.
|Patriots reportedly trade Michael Hoomanawanui to Saints for DE Akiem Hicks; Cut Kenbrell Thompkins, 3 others||09.30.15 at 6:29 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The last day before the four-day bye was a busy one for the Patriots.
The team traded veteran tight end Michael Hoomanawanui to the Saints, according to a report from the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin. The Saints have been struggling on offense and are still trying to make up for the loss of tight end Jimmy Graham in an offseason deal to Seattle.
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports that the Patriots are receiving defensive end Akiem Hicks in return from New Orleans. The Patriots got an up close and personal look at Hicks in August when the Patriots and Saints held two days of joint practices in West Virginia prior to their game on Aug. 22. Hicks started that game at left defensive end and had one tackle.
The 27-year-old Hoomanawanui is in his sixth NFL season and played the last three seasons with the Patriots. The big blocking tight end was inactive last Sunday against the Jaguars. It had become apparent that Michael Williams had passed him on the depth chart. The Patriots now have three tight ends on their active roster in Williams, Rob Gronkowski and Scott Chandler.
Suddenly, the Patriots have become wheeler-dealers at the trading table. If it goes through (the trade was not on the NFL wire as of the close of business Wednesday), the deal will be the team’s second of the week, having acquired linebacker Jon Bostic from the Bears on Monday afternoon for a sixth-round pick.
The Patriots dealt for offensive lineman Ryan Groy from the Bears on Aug. 10 for linebacker and 2015 draft pick Matthew Wells. Groy was cut before the season began. The Patriots also acquired Williams from the Lions on Aug. 25 for a seventh round pick in 2017.
In addition to the trade, the Patriots cut veteran linebacker Dekoda Watson from the active roster and released receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, offensive lineman Chris Barker and defensive lineman Joe Vellano from the practice squad.
|Bradley Fletcher, Michael Hoomanawanui among Patriots inactives vs. Jaguars||09.27.15 at 11:38 am ET|
The following players are inactive for Sunday’s game with the Jaguars: offensive lineman Ryan Wendell, defensive end Trey Flowers, cornerback Bradley Fletcher, defensive end Rufus Johnson, tight end Michael Hoomanawanui, safety Tavon Wilson and running back Travaris Cadet.
Wendell was ruled out Friday with an illness, as he hasn’t appeared in a game all season. Flowers and Wilson haven’t appeared in a game this year. With Hoomanawanui it appears tight end Michael Williams has jumped him on the depth chart. Fletcher is inactive after a poor showing last week in Buffalo.
Dominique Easley (hip) is active after missing last week’s game with a hip injury suffered Week 1 against the Steelers. Wide receiver Keshawn Martin will make his Patriots debut along with cornerback Justin Coleman.
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
|Patriots announce offseason award winners||08.01.15 at 7:00 am ET|
FOXBORO — On Friday, the Patriots announced their offseason award winners. The honors are doled out on the combination of attendance at offseason workout programs, physical testing and overall improvement, and usually come with a prime parking space closest to the players’ entrance at Gillette Stadium.
This year’s winners are: safety Nate Ebner, linebacker Jonathan Freeny, tight end Michael Hoomanawanui, defensive lineman Antonio Johnson, linebacker Eric Martin, safety Devin McCourty, left tackle Nate Solder and center Bryan Stork.
By way of comparison, here’s a look at the offseason award winners the last three years:
Defensive end Chandler Jones, wide receiver Julian Edelman, linebacker Jamie Collins, safety Devin McCourty, cornerback Logan Ryan, fullback James Develin, safety Nate Ebner, linebacker Jerod Mayo, offensive lineman Dan Connolly and linebacker Dont’a Hightower.
Wide receiver Danny Amendola, quarterback Tom Brady, cornerback Ras-I Dowling, linebacker Dane Fletcher, linebacker Jerod Mayo, defensive end Rob Ninkovich, special teams captain Matthew Slater, left tackle Nate Solder, cornerback Aqib Talib and defensive lineman Vince Wilfork.
Linebacker Bobby Carpenter, safety Patrick Chung, defensive end Jermaine Cunningham, wide receiver Julian Edelman, kicker Stephen Gostkowski, linebacker Jerod Mayo, linebacker Trevor Scott, left tackle Nate Solder, linebacker Jeff Tarpinian and running back Danny Woodhead.
|Resetting Patriots depth chart: Tight end||04.10.15 at 8:00 am ET|
With the majority of free agency completed and the draft looming, we’re going to take a look at the Patriots depth chart by position and try and assess the level of need going forward. We started with special teams. Now, it’s tight end:
Current depth chart: Rob Gronkowski (82 catches, 131 targets, 1,124 yards, 12 TDs), Scott Chandler (47 catches, 70 targets, 497 yards, 3 TDs for Buffalo in 2014), Tim Wright (26 catches, 33 targets, 259 yards, 6 TDs), Michael Hoomanawanui (3 catches, 6 targets, 44 yards)
Lost in free agency: None.
Gained in free agency: Chandler is the biggest offensive addition the team made in free agency, agreeing to a contract with the Patriots on March 13. The 6-foot-7. 270-pounder, who was cut loose by the Bills earlier this offseason, has put together some really impressive performances against the Patriots over the years, with 28 catches for 384 yards and four touchdowns in his career against New England. The big tight end, who will turn 30 before the start of the 2015 season, had his best season in 2013 when he finished with 53 catches for 655 yards and a pair of touchdowns. In his career, he has 182 receptions for 2,120 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Other changes: None, although given the addition of Chandler — as well as his body type and skill set — it wouldn’t be a shock to see Wright evolve into more of a wide receiver type in 2015. Wright is a dependable pass catcher (his 79 percent catch rate was the best on the team for any offensive skill position player who was targeted at least 20 times), and is fundamentally a non-factor as a blocker. Something to keep an eye on this coming season.
Is this an area of need for the Patriots going into the draft? No. In an offseason where the tight end market is pretty bad — there are no consensus first-round picks in the draft at the position, and only Julius Thomas and Charles Clay made any real guaranteed money in free agency — the Patriots are in very good shape. While New England could chase after a tight end in the later rounds in the draft (or even go after a rookie free agent or two), as it has done the last couple of years with prospects like Zach Sudfeld), don’t expect the Patriots to utilize any prime draft capital at the spot this spring.
|Patriots position-by-position breakdown: Tight end||02.10.15 at 4:19 pm ET|
With the Patriots done for the season, we’ve got an end-of-the-year position-by-position breakdown of where the Patriots stand. We kicked off the series with a look at the special teams, wide receivers and running backs. Now, it’s tight ends.
Depth chart: Rob Gronkowski (82 catches, 131 targets, 1,124 yards, 12 TDs), Tim Wright (26 catches, 33 targets, 259 yards, 6 TDs), Michael Hoomaanwanui (3 catches, 6 targets, 44 yards)
Overview: What could be said about the impact of Gronkowski on the New England offense in 2014 that hasn’t already been said? After playing in just 18 of a possible 32 regular-season games in 2012 and 2013 because of health issues, he returned to become the most potent offensive option in the NFL this season, playing in 15 regular-season games (he sat out the meaningless regular-season finale against the Bills) and all three playoff contests. Along the way, he reasserted himself as an absolutely unstoppable presence. Including the playoffs, he topped 90 receiving yards in seven games, and had six or more catches in nine games and became a genuine MVP candidate.
When the numbers did dip, it reminded you of the old phrase about the only person being able to hold Michael Jordan to single-digits in scoring was Dean Smith. His impact was not just working as a pure pass-catcher, as on several occasions, teams went hard after Gronkowski with two and three defenders, which opened things up for other dependable targets in the passing game like Brandon LaFell or Julian Edelman. And his work as a blocker occasionally gets lost in the wave of statistical output — he remains one of the better blocking tight ends in the league, and did more than his share of clearing the way for the New England running game. (Just ask Sergio Brown.)
This is not to necessarily diminish the work of Wright or Hoomanawanui. Both had their share of spotlight moments: Hoomanawanui played a sizable role in the offensive line trickery that flummoxed the Ravens in the divisional playoff game, while Wright gained notoriety as the most dependable target for Tom Brady has had in the last several seasons. But when you’re talking about tight ends in New England, the conversation begins and ends with Gronkowski. Provided he continues to stay healthy, Gronkowski — who will turn 26 in May — will continue to give defensive coordinators ice-cream headaches for the next several years.
Best moment: There were several big-time moments for Gronkowski and the rest of the tight ends this past season, but we’re going to go a little far afield with this one. In the fourth quarter of the blowout loss to the Chiefs on Sept. 29, backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo found Gronkowski on a 13-yard scoring strike, a play that was fundamentally meaningless when it came to the final outcome, but a sign of things to come when it came to overall execution. Gronkowski dragged multiple defenders with him the last few yards into the end zone. It was a sign that the Gronk of old had returned — over the next five games, he had 36 catches for 516 yards and five touchdowns, providing a jolt for the New England offense.
Worst moment: Not many here, quite frankly. Maybe the relatively slow start for Gronkowski, as he clearly struggled out of the gate to regain his old form. Keeping in mind he didn’t have any preseason action, and so he basically used the first four games of the regular season as the build up. But there were some drops and — by his own admission and when judged against his own ridiculously high standard — some ragged play in the early going, who had 13 catches in the first four games of the season and didn’t find truly find his form until the late stages of the loss to Kansas City.
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