As Rob Gronkowski continues to make his way back on the field, the New England Patriots are in search of a tight end who can, not only fill the void left in the passing game without Gronkowski, but also someone who can compliment him when he does return. The team failed to draft that kind of tight end in the draft, but they may already have on the team. As Patriots insider Tom Curran reports on Thursday, Michael Hoomanawanui is looking to catch more passes this season.
No one will ever replace the talent of Gronkowski, but there is room on the team for another player to create his own role in the offence. Although Hoomanawanui isn’t known for his offensive production, he does have great hands and is capable of contributing in the passing game.
Hoomanawanui wants to be that guy. He said Thursday morning at Gillette Stadium, “Who doesn’t want to be that guy? I spent a lot of time this offseason looking at ‘the best tight ends in the league.’ Hopefully we can learn from that. Myself and the other guys. Anything you can put in that toolbox I’m definitely looking to do.”
The versatile tight end, used mostly for blocking, has the hands and the size to be a factor, but may lack the speed it takes to separate from defenders. He will just have to use his strength to shield off defenders when passes are thrown his way. But running routes is not only about speed; there are other factors as Hoomanawanui pointed out.
“There’s a million things that go into running a route the right way. Reading defenses. Getting open at the top of the route. Releases. There’s so many things. We’ll take something each day, put it in that toolbox and hopefully get better at it.”
Hoomanawanui re-signed with the Patriots this offseason. Part of the reason is that he is a player who understands his position and his role. He also knows Tom Brady’s offense enough to help the younger tight ends the team has brought in. He has also learned from watching Rob Gronkowski. Whether he develops into that compliment type player will depend on his effort on the field and the team’s trust in throwing him the ball.