Patriots

Mohamed Sanu hip to Tom Brady fourth-down hot route: 'We're going to have some fun'

Mohamed Sanu hip to Tom Brady fourth-down hot route: 'We're going to have some fun'

FOXBORO — Tom Brady smiled wide as he spoke to the newest member of the Patriots offense inside the Patriots locker room Sunday night. Seemed like, as far as Brady was concerned, Mohamed Sanu was already fitting in just fine.

"Great job, man," Brady said as he went in for a hug. "That's awesome."

Sanu ended up playing 36 snaps in his Patriots debut, a 27-13 win over the Browns. It wasn't a full workload, but he was able to do a little bit of everything in his first live foray into the Patriots offense.

He played in the slot and outside. He blocked. He caught two passes for 23 yards. And he got to see how the Patriots celebrate.

"[Matthew] Slater gave probably the best postgame speech I've ever heard in my life," he said. "I mean, it was unbelievable. I was ready to go play another whole game. I was like, 'What!?' They were like, 'He does this after every game.' I was like, 'Wow.' It was incredible."

It was the culmination of a busy week for the 30-year-old receiver. On Tuesday, the Patriots sent a second-round pick to the Falcons in order to acquire Sanu. He quickly made his way to Foxboro from Cincinnati without even a change of clothes, he said.

🏈 PATRIOTS 27, BROWNS 13

On Wednesday, Bill Belichick joked that he and Sanu had gone "way back" to Sanu's days at Rutgers when he was teammates with Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon and Steve Belichick. (He missed Jason McCourty by a year.) Sanu practiced with the Patriots for the first time Wednesday afternoon.

Through the week, he put in extra time with receivers coach Joe Judge and assistant Troy Brown, watching film and going over formations. At night, he took part in walkthroughs with younger receivers on the team, trying to get as much as he could of the Patriots offense down before the Browns got to town.

Between Judge, Brown, Brady, Josh McDaniels, Julian Edelman and Phillip Dorsett, Sanu had plenty of mentors to lean on.

"He worked really hard," Belichick said. "He spent a lot of extra time with everybody, especially Joe and Troy. Obviously, Josh, Tom and the other receivers, Phil and Jules and those guys. But he worked hard, and I thought he gained a lot of ground on the offense. Hopefully, he'll be further ahead next week but I'm glad he's here and hopefully he'll be able to contribute for us."

"I think it’s just going to be more and more confidence as he keeps going," Brady said. "He made a huge catch for us on fourth down, had a good crosser that he made a nice catch on, so keep just trying to find ways to get him the ball."

Brady tried to get Sanu the ball on the first drive of the game. On a second-and-nine snap, Sanu ran a quick stop route from the slot between two defenders. Brady's pass was low and to Sanu's left — he might've anticipated that Sanu would stop sooner — and it glanced off the receiver's hands incomplete.

🏈 PATRIOTS 27, BROWNS 13

It wasn't until the first play of the next drive that Sanu really made an impact play. On a crack toss to the left of the offensive formation, Sanu motioned down toward the line and laid a block on defensive end Myles Garrett. Sony Michel ran for seven yards, and Sanu was settled in.

"Gotta get that first contact to get your blood flowing," he said after the game. Then it's like, 'All right. Cool. Time to lock in.' " 

In the second quarter, Sanu made his first catch on a fourth-down play that served as statement to anyone who's watched the Patriots offense over the years. Brady's trust in critical spots isn't easily earned. That he was willing to throw to his newest teammate on a fourth-down snap early in the game spoke volumes. 

It served as an indication that the offense was short on chain-moving options after Edelman and James White. It also made it pretty clear that — whether it was based on his history with the Falcons or simply where Sanu was situated on the field for that particular play — Brady believed in him as a go-to option with a turnover on downs looming if it didn't go well. 

If Sanu wasn't at the right depth, if his hands weren't ready, the Patriots were giving the football away. 

Not only was he ready, not only was he at just the right depth (the Browns actually challenged the spot unsuccessfully), but the play was the result of Sanu picking up Brady's "alert" signal before the snap and remembering an adjustment Brady told him about early in the week. If the Browns brought pressure against that particular alignment with Sanu as "No. 3" — the inner-most option in a three-receiver alignment — he'd have to react quickly.

The Browns sent five pass-rushers, and Sanu recalled back to the hot route Brady told him about early in the week.

"He saw the same thing I saw," Sanu said. "We was on the same page, and I just made sure I was at the right place at the right time for him. We talked about it earlier in the week. He was like, 'Just be prepared if we're in this formation and this...' [That's] exactly what happened. Exactly. I saw him, I saw it, and I was like, 'Bet.' We just executed."

They executed again later in the game when Brady threw one of several pinpoint passes on the night to Sanu on a deep over route in the fourth quarter. As Sanu trotted out of bounds with a first down, the Gillette Stadium crowd cheered, "SANUUUUUU!"

"We're gonna get more of that going," Sanu said of the response. "We're gonna get more of that going . . . I heard it. I was like, 'All right.' It gave me a little more juice."

The Patriots are hoping Sanu will give their offense more juice moving forward as he picks up more and more with each game plan. There's certainly room for growth as that side of the ball went 7-for-18 on third and fourth-down conversion attempts and 2-for-6 in the red zone against Cleveland. 

As Brady left the locker room to handle his postgame media responsibilities, he told Sanu to come back ready to work. They had one game in the books together, and while there was enough there to make the quarterback (a quarterback who reportedly pushed for Sanu to be New England's trade target ahead of the deadline) smile wide after the fact, they knew they'd only scratched the surface of what they should be able to do after some time together.

"Once I get my feet wet a little more," Sanu said, "we're gonna have some fun."

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Peyton Manning claims Giants beating Patriots as 'favorite Super Bowl memory'

Peyton Manning claims Giants beating Patriots as 'favorite Super Bowl memory'

Peyton Manning either is a very supportive brother or delights in seeing his long-time rival fail. Or a little of both.

In a tribute to younger brother Eli Manning, who announced his retirement from the New York Giants on Friday, Peyton insisted his "favorite Super Bowl memory" was watching Eli defeat the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

"I think people don't really believe me or are surprised [when I say] my greatest Super Bowl memory is watching my little brother take the New York Giants down the field in a two-minute drill and beat the undefeated Patriots and all that came with that," Peyton said in an interview with Broncos.com's Aric DiLalla.

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"Maybe I wasn't as happy as the '72 Dolphins, who I promise you were celebrating and they're on record saying that, but I was pretty close."

Let's get this straight: Peyton enjoyed watching someone else win a Super Bowl (during a season in which his Indianapolis Colts were bounced early in the playoffs) more than he enjoyed winning two Super Bowls for two different teams (with the Colts in 2006 and the Denver Broncos in 2013)?

"It was just pride and he's five years younger than me and you kind of reflect on the times growing up," Peyton said, adding that his memories of Eli as a "quiet, calm and cool kid" made it "surreal" to watch Eli lead an upset of one of the greatest teams of all time.

"That's my greatest Super Bowl memory without a doubt, even more than the ones I was able to participate in," Peyton said. "He did it."

That Eli's first Super Bowl win came over Tom Brady and the Patriots probably made it that much sweeter for Peyton, who was 6-11 against Brady during his career.

Super Bowl XLII was one of Brady's most painful memories, so maybe this was Peyton's way of getting revenge for Tom calling him out on "Peyton's Places" earlier this month.

Ex-Patriots WR Danny Amendola gives his take on Tom Brady's NFL future

Ex-Patriots WR Danny Amendola gives his take on Tom Brady's NFL future

Danny Amendola is the latest NFL player to weigh in on the future of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Brady is able to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career in March unless he and the Patriots come to a contract agreement before that point. The 42-year-old quarterback has spent his entire 20-year career in New England, but nothing lasts forever and you can bet most teams would love to add Brady to their roster if he ever chose to leave the Patriots.

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Amendola appeared on ESPN's "SportsCenter" on Friday, where he was asked about Brady's upcoming decision. He doesn't know exactly what will happen, but he noted family definitely will play a factor.

"It's going to go however he wants. He's the ultimate competitor," Amendola said. "I think as his kids get older, he wants to spend time with his family. I think that's going to weigh heavily on his decision and where he goes, and he can set that up the way he wants. His competitive nature, his ability is still through the roof. And whatever team gets him -- if he stays in New England or if he goes somewhere else -- he's going to bring a high level of football there."

When asked about the Los Angeles Chargers being a potential destination for Brady, Amendola admitted it's difficult to see the six-time Super Bowl champion in a different uniform.

"It's hard for me to see him in any other jersey than a Patriots jersey, so I'm holding on just like everybody else is," Amendola said.

Patriots fans obviously would love for Brady to return for at least one more season in New England, and most of them probably wouldn't mind Amendola coming back as well. The Patriots need to upgrade their depth and talent at wide receiver before the 2020 season, and Amendola will be a free agent in March.

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