Patriots

How Patriots' Cam Newton, Mohamed Sanu became instant workout partners

How Patriots' Cam Newton, Mohamed Sanu became instant workout partners

It all seemed to happen so quickly.

The New England Patriots came out of the blue two Sundays ago to reportedly sign free-agent quarterback Cam Newton to a one-year contract. Two days later, Newton was throwing passes to Patriots wide receiver Mohamed Sanu during a workout session in Los Angeles.

So, how did quarterback and wide receiver link up so quickly in this era of physical distancing? According to Sanu's trainer, Drew Lieberman, they got lucky.

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"The day Cam signed, they were FaceTiming each other just talking about how excited they were," Lieberman told CLNS Media's Evan Lazar. "And Cam was like, ‘What are you doing this week?’ Mo said he was going to L.A. for the week, and Cam said, ‘Oh shoot, I’m about to be in L.A. too! Let’s link up.' "

What followed were a series of intense workouts at UCLA in which Newton and Sanu built some notable chemistry, according to Lieberman, a 2013 Wesleyan graduate who founded "The Sideline Hustle" and has worked with Sanu during the last two offseasons. 

"The biggest thing I was looking for wasn’t even football stuff," Lieberman told Lazar. "It was more like how do they vibe together, what was the chemistry like, and what’s the overall energy? That part of it was awesome." 

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Newton and Sanu share plenty in common: Both have ties to Atlanta -- Newton is an Atlanta native, while Sanu spends his offseasons there after playing four seasons for the Falcons -- and both are aiming to bounce back from injuries that required offseason surgery (Newton's foot and Sanu's ankle).

If both players can stay healthy in 2020, the QB and wide receiver could form a potent duo in a Patriots offense that could desperately use a jolt following Tom Brady's departure this offseason.

As for the quarterback who was supposed to take Brady's job? Sanu and Jarrett Stidham "talk almost every day," according to Lieberman, but have yet to meet up for an in-person workout.

Bill Belichick confident in Patriots' safety protocols despite opt-outs

Bill Belichick confident in Patriots' safety protocols despite opt-outs

The New England Patriots already have had eight players opt out of the 2020 NFL season, and few would blame Bill Belichick -- the oldest head coach in the league at 68 -- if he made a similar decision.

So, did concerns about COVID-19 lead Belichick to consider not coaching in 2020? It doesn't appear so.

"I feel very good about the environment that we're in," Belichick said Friday in a video conference with reporters. "I feel fine."

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Belichick also confirmed no coaches on his staff have backed out of the 2020 season.

The Patriots are in the "acclimation period" of training camp, with players going through non-padded walk-throughs outside Gillette Stadium as they ramp up for their first padded practice on Aug. 17.

According to Belichick, the players and staff in the building feel confident in their safety so far.

"I can't speak for everybody, but I think my impression is that as an organization, as a coaching staff, the support people, the players -- there's a comfort level with what we're doing and who's doing it and how we're doing it, and we're being productive," Belichick said.

"So, if concerns or problems come up, then we'll address those. But right now, I think it's a good working environment. We're getting a lot done."

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The Patriots, like every other team, have to follow rigorous safety protocols that include frequent COVID-19 tests, temperature checks and physical distancing measures. That "new normal" will take some getting used to, but Belichick believes the protocols have helped create an environment that coaches and staff feel safe in.

"The organization has taken a lot of steps to ensure everyone's safety and opportunity to do their job and do it safely and do it productively," Belichick said. 

"Certainly there's a lot of responsibility on each one of us to do things in a way that doesn't affect others negatively, that we take the proper precautions that we can and should, so that's what we're doing."

Mohamed Sanu shouts out Cam Newton in Patriots practice Instagram post

Mohamed Sanu shouts out Cam Newton in Patriots practice Instagram post

Mohamed Sanu finally doesn't have to fly across the country to work out with his new quarterback.

The New England Patriots began Phase 1 of training camp this week by hitting the practice field as a team outside Gillette Stadium.

That means Cam Newton joined his Patriots teammates in an official capacity for the first time, and Sanu seems pretty excited about having his new quarterback in the building.

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Here's the Instagram shout-out Sanu gave Newton Thursday on Instagram via a photo of the two in Patriots gear at training camp:

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Beannnn & Ace booogie wit da hoodie

A post shared by Mohamed Sanu Sr. (@mohamedsanu) on

Sanu and Newton teamed up for informal throwing sessions in Los Angeles just days after the 31-year-old quarterback signed with the Patriots in free agency and appeared to develop a strong connection.

Like Newton, Sanu has a lot to prove this season after an ankle injury plagued his 2019 campaign with New England. The 30-year-old sprained his ankle in his second game with the Patriots last season after a midseason trade from the Atlanta Falcons and caught three passes or fewer in his final six games of the season.

Sanu projects to be the Patriots' No. 2 wide receiver this season behind Julian Edelman, so if he can stay healthy, he could go a long way in helping Newton and the Patriots finding success this season despite a wave of player opt-outs.