Three New England Patriots were honored by the Pro Football Writer's Association as they released their end-of-season awards on Tuesday. Rookie Michael Onwenu was named to the All-Rookie team, while second-year players Jake Bailey (punter) and Gunner Olszewski (punt returner) both made the All-NFL team.
It was a surprisingly productive season for Onwenu, the 6th-round pick out of Michigan played over 90 percent of the snaps and was a valuable member of the offensive line. A college guard, Onwenu saw time at both guard spots early in the season with the Patriots, but ended up holding down the right tackle spot for the majority of the year, a development that surprised even Onewnu.
"I would say it's been what I expected in terms of being harder than college," said Onwenu late in the season of the jump to the NFL. "Obviously a lot better athletes and a lot of different stuff defensively.
"It's the NFL, so everybody's good, every day is not a given. You're going to work every day."
Bailey and Olszewski also made the AP All-Pro team, solidifying their outstanding seasons.
"[Jake] does a great job of really everything – kickoffs, holding, been part of Nick's [Folk] consistency, as well – and of course his punting," said Bill Belichick this season. "He's got the big leg and the ability to change field position, but also situational punting, like he had in the Miami game. The kickoff, the punt – I mean, he does a lot of little things that are really, really important to the success of our special teams units and he's had an outstanding year. The punting is obvious, but there's a lot of other little things too that he does a great job of."
Olszewski returned his first punt for a touchdown against the Chargers, part of an end-of-season hot streak that propelled him to a collection of post-season honors. He led the league in return average, averaging close to 20 yards-per-return on his final 16 punt returns on the season.