BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots offense is going to look a whole lot different in 2020. Tom Brady will no longer be leading the charge, with second-year QB Jarrett Stidham likely taking over under center. That will put the onus on other offensive players to step up their games to help New England put points on the board.
Wide receiver Mohamed Sanu is taking that to heart, determined to have a better 2020 season than his first impression with the Patriots in 2019. Sanu struggled in the New England offense last season after arriving from Atlanta at the trade deadline for a second-round pick, hampered greatly by a nagging ankle injury that followed him over the final months. Having undergone surgery over the offseason to repair the ankle, Sanu is expecting some big things in his first full season with the Patriots.
The veteran wideout has been training heavily throughout the offseason, even when he was still on the mend from surgery. It started with a seated Sanu catching 1,000 balls a day, in addition to working on his hand-eye coordination while he couldn’t get up and run around. And since he got out of his walking boot in mid-May, he’s put in work with a customized football launcher.
Sanu’s trainer, Hilton Alexander, has been there very step (or non-step) of the way, and is now the latest passenger on the Sanu Hype Train this offseason. Alexander says Patriots fans should expect big things from the 31-year-old pass-catcher when football kicks off in 2020.
“I would tell you he’s probably faster, quicker, leaner and in better shape now than prior to the surgery,” Alexander told ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss. “I would say he’s way ahead of any doctor’s knowledge or prediction where he would have been at this point. Way ahead of the curve.”
Alexander said that last season’s ankle injury kept Sanu from having his usual impact in the New England offense. In his eight games with the Patriots, Sanu had just 26 receptions on 47 targets for 207 yards and a touchdown.
“I think he knows he was a shell of himself toward the end of the season. He wasn’t in the position where he could do the best he could and be able to offer that Mohamed Sanu that everybody has grown to love all those years in Cinci [2012-15] and Atlanta [2016-2018],” said Alexander.
Being better — much better — in 2020 is providing a huge source of motivation for Sanu.
“I know the fans didn’t get a chance to see 100% Mohamed Sanu. I promise you, that is a huge chip on his shoulder now,” said Alexander. “He is training like he has something to prove, like this is Year 1 in this league and he has to make his name known.”
Sanu and veterans Julian Edelman and Marqise Lee are the only wide outs on the New England depth chart with significant playing time under their belts, so a better Sanu is 2020 will be imperative to the success of the New England offense once Stidham takes over.