FOXBORO — He was asked to say it twice, just so everyone heard it correctly.
“Oh-oh-mah-NAH-wah-NEW-ee,” said the newest Patriots tight end, pronouncing his last name. “Did you get that?”
One day after being signed to New England’s 53-man active roster, Michael Hoomanawanui was still making the rounds at Gillette Stadium. On Thursday he introduced himself to media and staff he hadn’t yet met, sounding out his Polynesian surname as he went.
A newcomer to most, Hoomanawanui is a familiar face to some inside the Patriots locker room. On Sunday he was released by the St. Louis, where he played under Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and alongside former Rams Greg Salas, Daniel Fells and Brandon Lloyd.
Though Hoomanawanui was a bit taken aback by the number of reporters crowding around his locker, joking it was “a little different” scene from what he was used to in St. Louis, on the field, the changes aren’t quite as jarring. He says his familiarity with McDaniels’ system has made his transition to New England a smooth one.
“It helps tremendously coming in here and being thrown in the fire right away,” said Hoomanawanui, who said he’s already seen “a lot” that’s familiar between the two teams.
“It definitely helps knowing [McDaniels], knowing the offense from last year. Different terminology, but in the end it’s all pretty much the same.”
Hoomanawanui said he was used in several different capacities while with the Rams, which should benefit him as he acclimates himself to an offense that emphasizes the versatility of its tight ends.
At 6-foot-3, 263 pounds, physically Hoomanawanui is somewhere between Rob Gronkowski (6-6, 265) and Aaron Hernandez (6-1, 245). His skill set may allow him to be a suitable backup for both.
He’s expecting to be a blocker and a receiver when called upon — in his career he’s made 20 catches for 229 yards and 3 touchdowns. He said he’s also comfortable coming out of the backfield if need be.
“Being able to get in the pass game, but at the same time, hold the point of the block,” Hoomanawanui said. “At the same time, a lot of motioning, putting guys in a lot of different positions to make plays. There’s a lot on our shoulders, but we have a good group of guys.”
The Patriots got a look at Hoomanawanui as a fullback when they played the Rams during the 2010 preseason. It was something new for the fifth-round pick out of the University of Illinois, but he enjoyed it…