FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — A player’s value to a team can come in many forms, and sometimes it’s more behind the scenes than anything else. Such was the case with New England Patriots fifth-year tight end Michael Hoomanawanui last week.
Hoomanawanui was recognized as one of the team’s practice players of the week, an honor given to those the coaching staff feels best prepared the club in the days leading up a victory.
The 6-foot-4, 260-pound Hoomanwanui played the role of Chargers tight end Antonio Gates.
“Any time you can help out the other side, our group [studies] who the other tight ends are, or fullbacks, H-backs, and we take pride in it,” Hoomanawanui said. “We don’t have a practice squad [tight end], so we take pride in being in that position and being out there with those guys and making them better and getting them prepared for Sunday.”
Hoomanawanui added that he studied some of Gates’ movements in the overall team meeting. Then his preparations shifted into a higher gear during “scout-team meetings”, which he described as “pretty minor” compared to more regular offensive meetings.
But that doesn’t discount its importance.
“From our perspective, to give that look to the other guys, the defense, is a huge thing,” said Hoomanawanui, who ended up playing 41 offensive snaps in the game. “People on the outside, it might seem like a minor thing but we take a great deal of pride in training those guys.”
Gates finished with five catches for 34 yards (6.8 avg.).