Mike Hoomanawanui On The Shelf -- Again


Hoomanawanui suited up for action, a sight the Rams and their fans are both hoping to see more of in the future.
  • Hoomanawanui suited up for action, a sight the Rams and their fans are both hoping to see more of in the future.
The big bad injury bug has come along and bitten -- or stung? Do injury bugs bite or sting? -- the Rams again, putting Mike Hoomanawanui, the team's talented second-year tight end on the shelf for at least two weeks with a strained calf muscle. 

Unfortunately for Hoomanawanui, who has been christened 'Illinois Mike' in reference to his college affiliation by lazy sportswriters tired of trying to spell Hoomanawanui, he has been a favorite target of said injury bug in his young career, missing a large chunk of the season last year with an ankle sprain. He also missed substantial time in college with another ankle issue. In other words, pretty much everything below Mike Hoomanawanui's knees should really have Condemned signs pasted all over the place. 

It's bad news for Illinois Mike (see? lazy sportswriter), who is getting closer all the time to having the dreaded Injury Prone label stamped on his forehead, and it's bad news for the Rams, who have a shiny new offense largely based around getting production in the passing game from their tight ends. Only problem is, they're a wee bit short on tight ends now. 

The hopes is that Hoomanawanui won't miss any time in the regular season, but I wouldn't bet on it. Two weeks is supposedly the best-case scenario, and I have my doubts about Hoomanawanui's ability to stay healthy under optimal circumstances. Rushing back from an injury is just asking for trouble. 

So suddenly that Lance Kendricks pick in the second round of this past draft, the one so many people (yours truly very much included), didn't care for, is looking mighty fine. Kendricks has looked brilliant in training camp and preseason games so far, and more importantly, he's actually been on the field. If the Rams had listened to my genius advice they would currently be looking at Billy Bajema, Fendi Onobun, and at least one undrafted free agent serving as the extent of the tight end depth chart. So, you know, good for the Rams. 

This does make an already very intriguing camp battle even more meaningful. Even with Hoomanawanui possibly looking to miss the first week or two of the season, the Rams find themselves with more tight end candidates -- and more candidates who actually have some really interesting skillsets -- than they know what to do with. It likely means Fendi Onobun definitely makes the team, and a guy like Schuylar Oordt or Ben Guidugli could very well sneak on to the opening day roster as well if the Rams really want a full complement at tight end. It could also mean the Rams hold on to an extra receiver for the time being, just to get an extra pass-catcher on the field. 

What this latest injury means for Hoomanawanui is troubling. We all saw what a dynamic playmaker he's capable of being at times last season, and the only problem was we wanted to see more. The way things seem to be running for Illinois Mike, though, I'm not sure we're ever going to see that talent on the field consistently week after week. Hoomanawanui is too promising a player to give up on, but the Rams may need to start keeping an eye out for players capable of manning the position if and when Illinois Mike is unable to go once again. 


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