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Getty Mike Onwenu thinks more highly of New England Patriots offensive lineman Michael Onwenu than his coaching staff–at least that’s how it seems. Nick Shook of ranked Onwenu as one of the best players in the NFL, 25 years old or younger.

Surely a player recognized on such an esteemed list by a writer on the league’s own website would be a key cog in what his team does offensively, right?

The answer to that question isn’t as clear as one might expect.

After a sterling rookie season in 2020 )that saw the 6-foot-3, 350-pounder register an 84.3 grade with Pro Football Focus) Onwenu, a sixth-round pick out of Michigan, was used mostly as a swing offensive lineman in 2021.

With the departure of long-time guard Shaq Mason in a trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason, it appeared Onwneu would get his chance to shine and start. That may happen once the season gets underway, but early on in training camp, Onwenu has been splitting time with veteran James Ferentz.

According to Providence Journal’s Mark Daniels, Ferentz, and Arlington Hambright have been “rotating” and “playing some reps at right guard in place of Onwenu.”

James Ferentz has been rotating in at right guard with Michael Onwenu.

In practice, Arlington Hambright has been playing some reps at right guard in place of Onwenu.

That's been interesting

— Mark Daniels (@MarkDanielsPJ) August 6, 2022

Is Onwenu Better Than Ferentz?

No evidence would support that concept, but many may wonder why Ferentz, a journeyman O-lineman for all intent and purpose, would be rotating in with Onwenu. Perhaps the splitting of reps with Hambright is even more perplexing.

Hambright signed a futures deal with the Patriots in January, so it isn’t as if he’s come to camp as a highly touted prospect or an established veteran. Is Onwenu’s conditioning an issue?

That’s a valid question considering how grueling the heat can be during training camp, and Onwenu is a big man. Back in August 2020, just before the start of his rookie season, Onwenu trimmed down to 344 pounds, per’s Evan Lazar:

#Patriots rookie guard Michael Onwenu tells me he lost quite a bit of weight since his last collegiate game at Michigan. Down to 344, and credits the Pats strength and conditioning staff for getting him into great shape.

— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) August 30, 2020

For the record, no local media member who has been present for training camp practices has commented on Ownenu’s weight or conditioning.

What is Onwenu’s Best Position on the Offensive Line Long Term?

Onwenu was forced to play tackle to deal with a rash of injuries as a rookie, and he saw action there in 2021 as well because of the same situations. Despite being drafted as a guard and projected by most to play that position, Onwenu has played most of his snaps in the NFL at tackle.

Here is a breakdown of where Onwenu has played during his two-year career by snap counts, per PFF:

  • Left Tackle: 0
  • Left Guard: 402
  • Center: 0
  • Right Guard: 187
  • Right Tackle: 892
  • Inline Tight End: 92

The versatility has been excellent, but Onwenu will likely reach his full potential when and if he can settle into one role. It would seem Onwenu can be an upper-echelon NFL player at either guard spot, but like many O-Lineman in the NFL, there is a good chance he continues to be shuffled around to meet the team’s needs.

It would seem the Patriots’ ideal offensive line in 2022 would be Isaiah Wynn, Onwenu, David Andrews, rookie Cole Strange, and Trent Brown. If everyone is healthy, that will still likely be the starters in front of Mac Jones.

If they can all remain mostly healthy, we could see a special year from Onwenu and the O-Line overall.

Follow the Heavy on Patriots Facebook page, where you can weigh in on all the latest Patriots-related breaking news, rumors, content, and more!

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Cardinals: Miles Mikolas makes wrong kind of history in disastrous start

The St. Louis Cardinals were hoping Miles Mikolas could curtail his Coors Field struggles. Instead, things got much, much worse. 

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Miles Mikolas entered his Tuesday night start against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field with a 1.83 ERA in 12 night games this season. However, it didn’t take long for that impressive ERA to explode as Mikolas ended up on the wrong side of history in the Mile High City.

Mikolas entered into the MLB history books in a dubious way on Tuesday night, giving up 14 hits and 10 runs in 2.2 innings as the Rockies finished the third inning with a 12-0 lead over the National League Central-leading Cardinals. With that outing, Mikolas became just the second MLB pitcher to ever give up 14 or more hits and 10 or more runs while recording 10 or fewer outs.

Who was the last MLB pitcher to have such a horrendous outing? Ralph Comstock of the Detroit Tigers at the Boston Red Sox on Sept. 12, 1913 (h/t to @MikeGarrigan23 for the information).

Cardinals: Miles Mikolas’ disastrous start vs. Rockies makes dubious history

Overall, Mikolas entered Tuesday’s game with a 2.92 ERA, the ninth-lowest mark in MLB. However, when he walked off the mound in the middle of a nine-run Colorado third inning, that ERA had jumped to 3.50. Additionally, opponents were hitting just .222 against Mikolas this season before Tuesday night. Colorado went 14-for-22 against him (.637 batting average).

Colorado’s nine-run third inning which chased Mikolas marked the first time this season that a National League team had scored nine or more runs in a frame. Additionally, Colorado’s nine hits in the third inning were the most the Rockies had put together in one inning since June 28, 2019, when they recorded nine hits in the bottom of the fifth against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Mikolas flirted with history on June 14 when he came within one out of throwing a no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates. On Tuesday night, he entered history on the complete opposite end of the pitching record books.

Next: 3 things learned from the St. Louis sweep of the Yankees

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