Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Tight End Hopes Injuries Behind Him; Hoomanawanui Feeling Good in Practice for First Time since Tearing ACL

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Tight End Hopes Injuries Behind Him; Hoomanawanui Feeling Good in Practice for First Time since Tearing ACL

Article excerpt

Tight end Michael Hoomana-wanui has been down the injury road before. As a Rams rookie in 2010, he missed eight games with ankle injuries. Last season, he missed preseason time with a concussion and then a calf injury that also shelved him for the regular-season opener.

But nothing like the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, an injury that occurred trying to hurdle Cleveland Browns defender Joe Haden last Nov. 13. Surgery followed and he missed the final seven games. And now, 8 months after the injury, Hoomanawanui took part in his first practice Wednesday.

"It was honestly hard for me to sleep (Tuesday night)," he said. "It was almost like Christmas. When something is taken away from you for nine months - something you're used to doing each and every day, and something you love to do - it's definitely hard. So I'm excited. That's a pretty good word for it."

During the long rehab process, Hoomanawanui left no stone unturned in trying to prepare for his return to football.

"I'd be wrong not to give a shout-out to everyone that's helped me," he said. "The trainers here - Reggie (Scott) and his staff did a tremendous job. Especially Tyler Williams worked with me on a day- to-day basis."

He also went back to a personal trainer that helped him prepare for the NFL scouting combine and the pre-draft process coming out of the University of Illinois in 2010.

"Everybody's different," Hoomanawanui said. "There's a different training regimen everyone goes by, and I think I found the one I like - the one I went back to. It's the one where I'd be the most healthy."

He also changed his nutrition habits, going to a Metabolic Meals program.

"The meals are prepared fresh and delivered to my house," he said. "High protein, gluten free. It took a couple weeks to get used to. It tastes good, but it's not McDonald's or anything like that."

In short, he didn't want any excuses for not performing well once he got back to football, or not staying healthy. He looks leaner, yet stronger with his weight down a few pounds to 262 and his body fat down to 10 percent.

According to coach Jeff Fisher, Hoomanawanui volunteered to take part in the team's three-day rookie camp, which concluded Friday.

"In his case, it was a real good idea to ease him back in, to get the confidence in the knee, and he's really done a good job," Fisher said. "He's running (well), he did great in the conditioning test. He's worked hard and he appears to be back for good. It will be very competitive at that position with him back."

Hoomanawanui said he "killed it" when asked about his conditioning test taken just prior to the start of rookie camp.

"I was joking with the coaches that I'm going to have to get on the plane to London and run some track out there (at the Olympics)," he added. "Hopefully, it'll work for me and we'll put everything in the big man upstairs' hands. …

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