The New England Patriots have experienced a bit of turnover upfront with the free-agency departure of Joe Thuney, trade of Marcus Cannon and arrivals of tackle Trent Brown and interior lineman Ted Karras.
And while both Brown and Karras are returning to the Patriots for the second time, second-year lineman Michael Onwenu had yet to share the field with either before this offseason. Still, Onwenu, who was named to the Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie Team last season, seems to be confident in the cohesiveness of the group.
“I think the chemistry is there,” Onwenu said after Tuesday’s practice, per the team.
Onwenu played every snap during the team’s final 14 games while making starts at right tackle, right guard and left guard. He is expected to fill the void at left guard after Thuney signed a massive contract with the Kansas City Chiefs.
But while Onwenu is playing with Brown and back-up Karras for the first time, he has experience from 2020 with Ieft tackle Isaiah Wynn (10 games), center David Andrews (12 games) and right guard Shaq Mason (13 games).
“Last year I was working from position to position, so I mean whether I was at right guard or right tackle, I was still working with the same guys, but it’s just about working the same fits and getting to know how everyone like fits up their techniques and working off of that so we can work together,” Onwenu said.
The Michigan product, who was selected No. 182 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, acknowledged how he has been picking the brain of those around him. Brown, for example, played left tackle in New England before playing right tackle with the Raiders each of the prior two seasons. He’s expected to play right tackle again this season.
Andrews, a team captain, is another lineman who has helped the 23-year-old Onwenu.
“David is a big monument in our in our o-line,” Onwenu said. “He keeps everyone together and controls everybody. I think he’s a big part of our o-line and he?s the leader.”
Arguably the biggest strength of the Patriots’ offensive line will be its versatility — Onwenu, Brown and Karras can play multiple positions — and having multiple players that know multiple positions certainly bodes well for the group’s cohesiveness.