Sony Michel

NFL rumors: Patriots place Sony Michel, Mohamed Sanu, Brandon King on PUP list

NFL rumors: Patriots place Sony Michel, Mohamed Sanu, Brandon King on PUP list

The New England Patriots will begin training camp with three players on the physical unable to perform, or PUP, list. 

Patriots wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, running back Sony Michel and special teams standout Brandon King all have been placed on the PUP list, according to ESPN's Field Yates.

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Sanu had offseason ankle surgery in March. He suffered the ankle injury in Week 11 against the Philadelphia Eagles, and it prevented him from playing at a high level for the remainder of the 2019 season. Michel had foot surgery in May. The 2018 first-round pick had a disappointing sophomore season in which he averaged just 3.7 yards per carry. King missed all of the 2019 campaign because of a torn quad. Therefore, it's not too surprising that these players have landed on the PUP list.

In Sanu's case, he's been working pretty hard over the offseason to get back into optimal shape. He's posted several workout videos on Instagram, including some sessions that included newly signed quarterback Cam Newton. 

Patriots winners & losers if NFL eliminates 2020 preseason

Patriots winners & losers if NFL eliminates 2020 preseason

With just over a week left before training camp begins, the latest rumblings are that the NFL could knock its two-game preseason (which of course was once a four-game preseason) down to one, or even zero.

That could very well benefit the Patriots as an organization since logic would follow that the smartest teams will adapt most quickly to pro football's new reality. They're annually among the league's smartest teams. 

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But what about the individuals within the Patriots organization? Who would benefit from a one-game preseason, and for whom could this development make life increasingly difficult?

Let's take a look; click here for the gallery.

LaDainian Tomlinson explains why Patriots RBs should love Cam Newton signing

LaDainian Tomlinson explains why Patriots RBs should love Cam Newton signing

If history is any indication, Sony Michel and James White should be just as excited as Julian Edelman and Mohamed Sanu about Cam Newton coming to New England.

The Patriots reportedly signed the free-agent quarterback to a one-year contract Sunday as he looks to rebound from an injury-plagued 2019 season.

If healthy, Newton is a significant upgrade over second-year QB Jarrett Stidham and journeyman Brian Hoyer. His mobility (assuming full health) also gives New England's offense another dimension that, if you ask LaDainian Tomlinson, will directly benefit the team's deep stable of running backs.

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“If I’m Sony Michel or James White, I’m very excited about the opportunities that I’m getting in that backfield along with Cam Newton,” Tomlinson said Monday on NFL Network's "NFL Total Access," as transcribed by "When you think about all of the running backs that Cam Newton has played with, DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, even to Christian McCaffrey, all of those guys have had success because of the RPO game."

Newton excelled at the "run-pass option" in Carolina because defenses had to honor his threat to run: He racked up 4,808 rushing yards and 58 rushing TDs with the Panthers from 2011 to 2018. That threat opened up rushing lanes for Carolina's running backs, and the results showed: The Panthers ranked among the NFL's top five teams in rushing yards in four of Newton's first eight seasons with the team and never finished worse than 11th.

"You have to account for Cam Newton. Therefore, you have to always have an identified and defined box," Tomlinson added. "A lot of times they’re going to play eight or nine men in the box. That way, when you’re a running back, you clear the first wave of people and there’s nobody else back there. Because everybody is lined up in the box to stop the RPO game."

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Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels -- who never ran RPOs with the glacially slow Tom Brady -- has a wealth of options in the running game if Newton is healthy: Rex Burkhead, Brandon Bolden and Damien Harris complement Michel and White in one of the NFL's most versatile RB groups.

Oh, and Newton likes throwing to his running backs, too: McCaffrey led all NFL RBs in 2018 with 107 receptions. That's good news for White, who could become Newton's safety valve in the passing game.

The Patriots averaged just 3.8 yards per rush last season, 25th in the NFL. If Newton is healthy enough to be a threat in the running game, he should help boost that number significantly.