Few were expecting sixth-round pick Michael Onwenu to contribute as much and in as many different spots as he has in his rookie season, but his quick development and versatility have been both welcome and needed. Onwenu has surprised even himself a bit to be playing four different positions this soon into his pro career.
"I definitely didn't think it was a possibility," admitted Onwenu. "I mean, besides playing left or right guard, but I'm open to anything that comes my way so I'm grateful for the opportunity."
Onwenu earned some love from his teammates this week in the Bills film session for a big block that knocked down two Bills linebackers. Asked about it by the Boston Globe's Jim McBride and Onwenu smiled.
"During the film session you know all the guys cheered me on, that was a good feeling," said Onwenu. "To be honest, I didn't even know that happened until I watched it. I'm glad I did."
After starting training camp at guard, Onwenu moved out to tackle one day later in August and since then he's been one of the most versatile players on a team full of them.
The first two weeks he was the third tackle. Then he got his first start at right guard against the Raiders, until Jermaine Eluemunor's injury forced him over to left guard, before finally playing out the second half at right tackle.
Onwenu would start the next two games at right guard and has spent the last two at right tackle. Since Week 3, he's played every offensive down.
Is it hard to keep track of how to execute in each different position?
"It's not that difficult," said Onwenu. "Whether it's guard or tackle, it's kind of doing the same thing, just may be a little different, so just remembering that fine detail."
Onwenu has shown surprising athleticism and that he packs a punch in his first seven games. He's a physical throwback lineman who is already throwing NFL players around. Which position he ends up at long-term is still a good question, but it's pretty clear the Patriots drafted a really good player. A sixth-rounder out of Michigan, go figure.
Practice & Injury Report
After a day off on Wednesday, the Patriots players were back at practice on the upper fields on Thursday in full pads and welcoming two new practice squad members - Donte Moncrief and Ryan Glasgow.
N'Keal Harry and Carl Davis continue to be out with concussions, while the biggest new absence was Lawrence Guy, who was later listed on the injury report with three different injuries. Stephon Gilmore was also missing after popping up with a knee injury on Friday and not playing against the Bills.
As hinted at by Bill Belichick earlier this week, Beau Allen was not present and seems likely to revert to IR next week. Add it all up and the Patriots are hurting along the defensive line. Next week they can expect to add Isaiah Mack, but against the Jets, they could be shorthanded.
In all, the team listed 17 players on its Thursday injury report.
It wasn't all bad news on the day though, as running back Sony Michel was back at practice and off the Injured Reserve list. He now has three weeks to return.
Webex Quotes of Note
Terence Brooks on the chance to play every defensive snap against the Bills:
"It's all a blessing anytime you get your name called to go out there be part of the defense or special teams or anything, you got to take pride in it and I was just happy for the opportunity. Throughout my years and everything that I've been going through a lot that I just pray for specifically is just the opportunity. You can't pray for things to get done for you I just pray for good health and the opportunity and I feel like I can go out there and handle the rest. Coming out there and just being able to play all the snaps is definitely a great experience. I just love football, man. So anytime I can be out there, especially for that number snaps, I'm trying to take advantage of it as much as I can."
Jonathan Jones on his message to rookie Myles Bryant who saw his first defensive snaps against the Bills:
"Just be prepared. When your number is called the biggest thing you can do is be prepared. He's a smart kid, he works hard, he comes in and does his job. Anytime you get your number called, for anybody, when you're a young guy you just wanna be prepared because that one opportunity may be your only opportunity and you have to make the most of it."
Devin McCourty on what the defense can build on:
"I think one of things that stood out, we did some good things in that second half. We got to translate that to the first half. And then put a full 60 minutes together of good football, complementary football, all those things, of trying to do it more consistently throughout our whole game."