Will Patriots stick with Mike Onwenu at right tackle?

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The Patriots have spent all season plugging holes on their injury-riddled offensive line, and Sunday they finally found a workable combination after bumping fourth-year lineman Mike Onwenu from right guard to right tackle.

Will that prove a long-term move or a temporary shift? The Patriots coaching staff isn’t sure, and it will depend in large part on the unit’s injury situation.

“We’ll have to see how it goes,” said offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien. “We practice tomorrow so we’ll see where everyone is relative to health and all those things as we move forward.”

Onwenu allowed a single pressure in 37 pass-blocking snaps against Buffalo and earned his highest single-game grade this season from Pro Football Focus. As an offensive line, the Patriots recorded a 50% success rate on running plays and allowed pressure on just 21.2% of their dropbacks.

The idea of Onwenu playing tackle isn’t new. The former sixth-round pick started 11 games at right tackle as a rookie in 2020, when he converted from career college guard, but he hadn’t take snaps at the position since 2021. Bill Belichick previously dismissed the idea of a shift back to tackle last season, when the Patriots experience similar offensive line issues and started four different players at right tackle.

“I think he’s built to play guard, he’s comfortable playing guard. He has a really good skill set in there,” Belichick said in Nov. 2022. “That’s where we’d like to play him, for sure.”

As injuries mounted this year that calculus began to change. Belichick said he approached Onwenu about moving from right guard early last week, and offensive line coach Adrian Klemm said it was something the coaches have had on their radar for a little while.

“It’s not like it just came out of the blue,” Klemm said. “As things developed, that developed.”

The main concern with bumping Onwenu to tackle wasn’t his ability to play the position, Klemm said, but his comfort level working back from an ankle injury. He still has work do to and progress to make, but the coaches felt he was up to the task and are open to playing him at tackle again.

“If it gives us an advantage, which it definitely did the last game, we’ll continue to do that,” Klemm said. “So there are a lot of different factors that factor into that and we’ll continue moving forward with whatever is best for the team.”

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