The New England Patriots’ rushing offense had an encouraging game against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday: led by Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead and J.J. Taylor, the team gained 253 yards on the ground on just 35 carries. While the backs themselves had strong outings, so did the men blocking for them — especially considering that the team had to reshuffle its offensive line ahead of the game with David Andrews being sent to injured reserve.
The player inserted into the starting lineup to fill the vacant fifth spot was rookie guard Michael Onwenu, and he had a very good game. In fact, his performance was so good that it earned him the title of “Secret Superstar” as handed out by Touchdown Wire’s Doug Farrar each week:
The Patriots selected Onwenu out of Michigan in the sixth round of the 2020 draft and played him a bit at right tackle and in 6-OL packages in the first two weeks of the season. But when center David Andrews suffered a thumb injury and Joe Thuney moved to Andrews’ position, Bill Belichick and his staff decided to move Onwenu to left guard. In a 36-20 Sunday win over the Raiders, Onwenu allowed no sacks, no quarterback hits, and just one quarterback hurry in 32 pass-blocking snaps, and helped his team rack up 250 rushing yards.
Onwenu looked very good in his first career start, but the Patriots will need more performances like Sunday’s out of the youngster: with Andrews missing at least three weeks and games against the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos coming up, the rookie will need to continue his impressive development. For now, however, the Patriots can feel good in their sixth-round investment.