FOXBORO -- Cam Newton found out that Mohamed Sanu was going to be released when he heard the news from his cousin.
"I thought he was playing," Newton told reporters Friday.
Sanu was one of the most experienced receivers on the Patriots roster headed into 2020. He'd been acquired with a second-round pick last season. And when the Patriots practiced in training camp, Sanu was often one of the players meeting with Newton on a side field to squeeze in extra reps. Newton and Sanu could be seen chatting on the sidelines when they weren't on the field for team drills, talking things over, developing a rapport.
It's a process that dated back to soon after Newton agreed to sign in late June. Sanu, Newton was the first Patriots player to touch base with him to work out when news broke the former MVP was headed to New England. They got together soon thereafter for throwing sessions in order to get to know one another before the official start to training camp.
"Mo, he was really the first person that made himself available when I signed here," Newton said Friday. "It was tough for me . . . I just know, each and every year there's always a surprise. And to be honest with you, I wouldn't be surprised if something else happens. Not here, but just in the NFL that you just didn't see coming."
The Patriots have Julian Edelman, N'Keal Harry, Damiere Byrd, Gunner Olszewski, Jakobi Meyers remaining on the roster at the wideout spot. Lesser experienced players like Devin Ross, Jeff Thomas, Isaiah Zuber and Andre Baccellia are in the mix as well 24 hours before rosters must be reduced to 53 players.
"For me, I wish Mo the best," Newton added. "This game brings so many of us together. No matter if we're on a team together or not, we'll always be connected as friends and genuine people long after we can play this game. I think that's the biggest thing you get from it. Even if he's not here, he's somewhere else where you know you got a friend and somebody you know is going to be rooting for you."