Patriots

Next Pats Podcast: How Michael Onwenu mastered art of 'burping' opponents

Next Pats Podcast: How Michael Onwenu mastered art of 'burping' opponents

A note to NFL defensive linemen: If Michael Onwenu catches on with the New England Patriots, you may be in for some unpleasant experiences.

The Patriots traded up to the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft to select the 6-foot-3, 344-pound offensive guard out of Michigan.

Onwenu improved a lot over his four years in Ann Arbor, earning All-Big Ten honors after his junior and senior seasons.

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According to his college offensive line coach, Onwenu also learned a devastating new skill. Here's Michigan o-line coach Ed Warinner with Phil Perry on the Next Podcast describing how Onwenu went from helping opponents up to ... "burping" them:

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We had to get him out of the habit of helping people up that he'd knock down. Then he started liking the fact that, 'Hey, I'm knocking all these guys down, I'm leading the team.' ... Then we started getting him to when he knocked people down, he'd kind of fall on top of them and pin them. He transitioned into that pretty well.

When Mike falls on you, we have some pictures in our meeting room of Mike laying on top of people, and you could just see their facial expressions. We kind of have a name in our room: We call it 'burping' a guy. It's when you fall on a guy and you're that big, the air comes out of their lungs. It sounds like they just burped. So we'd be like, 'Mike, did you burp him?'

That doesn't sound pleasant.

Onwenu had plenty of opportunities to "burp" opponents while leading the Wolverines in knockdowns during his senior year. Warriner says that's a testament to the 22-year-old's exceptional lower-body strength.

"He can move people 1-on-1," Warriner said. "I have a saying in the o-line room: 'If you can move a man against his will, that's the toughest job in football.' ... That takes a grown-ass man, and Mike can do that."

Warriner also pointed out that Ownenu moved some impressive players in the talent-laden Big 10, recalling a game against Ohio State in which Onwenu stopped star defensive end Chase Young dead in his tracks.

"Chase Young tried to come inside and beat him 1-on-1, and he locked him out. It was over," Warriner said. "When Mike gets his hands on you and gets locked out, it's over."

Onwenu has an uphill climb to playing time in New England: Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason are the starting guards with Jermaine Eluemunor, Hjalte Froholdt and Najee Toran also on the depth chart.

If the Michigan product can "burp" opponents at the NFL level, though, we'd imagine he'll stick around. Check out more of the Next Pats Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network or watch on YouTube below:

 

Jason, Devin McCourty put pressure on NFL over uncertain 2020 season

Jason, Devin McCourty put pressure on NFL over uncertain 2020 season

Like many players, Devin and Jason McCourty have lots of questions. And the NFL hasn't given them sufficient answers.

The twin brothers and New England Patriots defensive backs wrote a guest column for Sports Illustrated's "The MMQB" in which they voiced their concerns about the 2020 NFL season amid the coronavirus pandemic and urged the league to address these concerns before training camps begin later this month.

"So many questions with virtually no answers, all three weeks removed from a potential start to training camp," the McCourtys wrote.

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While other professional sports leagues hashed out detailed return-to-play plans prior to restarting their seasons, the NFL has yet to share details of what the 2020 season may look like, all while keeping the same timeline, save for reportedly eliminating two preseason games.

The start of the regular season still is almost two months away, but with players returning to their cities to prepare for training camp, the McCourtys want answers from the league.

"Will we have an option to opt out of the season? Will we be making our full salary? What if there is a COVID outbreak within the league?" the McCourtys wrote. "It's so hard to make a decision of whether we will play or not without knowing what the exact plan is."

The twin brothers, who both have families with young children, also expressed hesitation about signing on to play a season with so many unknowns.

"Will we be able to have meetings in the building? Or will the meetings still be done virtually? Will testing be a few times a week or will it be every day?" they wrote. "As players, how do we decide what is best for us and our families when we don’t know what we’re walking into?"

The NFL and NFL Players Association has formed a joint committee of doctors and trainers to develop protocols that can help players safely prepare for the season. Based on the McCourtys' column, though, it sounds like the league and that joint committee still have plenty of work to do.

"We face a whole lot of unknowns, a whole lot of question marks, and overall are dealing with unsettling feelings about how to handle the two major topics that have hit our entire country hard this year," the McCourtys wrote, referencing COVID-19 and the racial justice movement reinvigorated by the death of George Floyd. 

"The year is only halfway done, so the verdict is still out on whether we can get some answers moving forward."

Next Pats Podcast: Would NFL consider moving season to New England? | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

NFL Rumors: How Cam Newton, N'Keal Harry's first Patriots workout came together

NFL Rumors: How Cam Newton, N'Keal Harry's first Patriots workout came together

A bit of good luck allowed Cam Newton to throw passes to Mohamed Sanu just days after joining the New England Patriots last month.

But the new Patriots quarterback apparently has been taking matters into his own hands since then.

Newton "initiated" contact with second-year wide receiver N'Keal Harry to set up last week's workouts in Los Angeles, ESPN's Mike Reiss reported Sunday.

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Newton and Harry spent "a couple of days together" working out, per Reiss, the first of which was a two-hour session that included fellow Patriots tight end Devin Asiasi and Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

It's a good sign for Harry and the Patriots that Newton is eager to work with the 22-year-old wide receiver, who has mostly been training in Houston and Arizona but gladly traveled out to Southern California to link up with his new QB.

Newton also gave Harry some love on Instagram over the weekend, commenting, "DØĒ•ßØ¥‼️😂 -1ØVĒ🤟🏾" on the wideout's post from a workout in Beverly Hills.

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Relentless‼️

A post shared by N'Keal Harry (@nkealharry) on

Julian Edelman and Sanu are projected to be Newton's top two wide receivers in 2020 -- assuming the QB beats out second-year Jarrett Stidham for the starting job -- but Harry has plenty of upside.

While New England's 2019 first-round draft pick appeared in only seven games during an injury-riddled campaign, Reiss pointed out Harry could develop a similar rapport with Newton as Kelvin Benjamin did in Carolina.

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Harry and the 6-foot-5, 245-pound Benjamin have similar frames, although Harry is working to get more agile and run sharper routes this offseason.

Next Pats Podcast: How can Pats maximize Harry's talent? | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube