Journey: Michael Hoomanawanui

AP Photo/Steven Senne

LONDON -- Third-year New England Patriots tight end Michael Hoomanawanui has some added motivation this week, as he's prepared to face his former team, the St. Louis Rams.

The Rams released Hoomanawanui, whom they selected in the fifth round of the 2010 draft, at the end of this year's training camp (Sept. 2). After a brief stop with the Redskins, Hoomanawanui landed in New England, where he's served as a second, third or fourth option on the depth chart at various times.

Hoomanawanui, who goes by the nicknames "Hoo-man" and "Uh-Oh" and pronounces his last name "Uh-oh-mah-NAH-wah-NEW-ee", has played in 58 offensive snaps this season. He's mostly been used as a blocker, totaling one reception for 4 yards.

The 24-year-old Hoomanawanui, a native of Illinois, shared his "football journey" with ESPNBoston.com:

When he first started playing football: "Sixth grade."

First positions: "Running back, guard, linebacker. Pretty much everywhere. I didn't move to tight end until high school -- tight end/D-end."

Favorite teams and players growing up: "I was a huge John Wayne fan, so I grew up loving the Cowboys. Then growing up in Illinois, you always have to have a soft spot for the Bears, too. My dad was always a Bears fan. Those two teams, and then it was the Rams and now the Patriots."

Role models in his life and career: "My dad [Isy] and my uncle Joe Spivak. They're best friends. [Spivak's] my godfather. He played offensive guard and my dad played linebacker at Illinois State University."

Favorite memories of Central Catholic (Bloomington, Ind.) High School: "Beating one of our bigger rivals, Pontiac, at home."

One reason that game was a top memory: "I had a game-winning touchdown with about a minute and a half left -- 44 Blast Y Arrow."

Attending the University of Illinois: "Coach Ron Zook and his coaching staff put together a good recruiting class, and it was close to home. It worked out great."

Favorite memories at Illinois (38 games, 40 receptions, 490 yards, 4 TDs): "The Rose Bowl, even though it was pretty ugly. Not many people can say they played in the Rose Bowl. But USC put it on us."

Thoughts on being drafted by the Rams in the fifth round: "It was great. All I wanted was an opportunity, to be given a chance. Coach Spags [Steve Spagnuolo] and Billy Devaney gave me that, and it was one of the greater days of my life."

Favorite memories of his time with the Rams: "The first year, going 7-9. It doesn't sound like a lot, but from where the program was, being that close to making the playoffs my first year was pretty cool. Other than that, just the relationships I made there."

Getting let go by the Rams: "Not fun by any means. It's part of this business. I'm not the first person to get let go by a team. You take it in stride, you learn, try to improve and take all those things with you."

Signing with the Redskins practice squad ever so briefly: "It was for about six hours. I landed sometime in the [early] morning, went to sleep, and was there from about 6 a.m. to noon and got the call from here. It was very brief. I went through all the logistical things, signings things, medical, started looking at the playbook, and then I got the call."

Describing life as a Patriot: "It's a great feeling, being part of something that's been here in place for a long time. They've done it right here for many years, Coach Belichick and his staff, the guys they have in place here, everyone is on the same page. There is only one goal and that's the Super Bowl. It's great to be a part of that."

What he loves about the game of football: "The team aspect, the preparation that goes into 16-plus weeks for one game a week and the relationships that you make fighting for one another, for one goal."

Summing up his football journey: "Exciting, especially now in the last couple of months. You never know what it's going to bring, so I take it all in stride and enjoy every minute of it. Not many people can say that they were an NFL player at any time. It's a small, selective group, and I'm just blessed to be a part of it."