New England Patriots

New England Patriots wide receiver Mohamed Sanu Sr. makes a catch during an NFL football training camp practice, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, Pool)

By Alex Barth,

It’s almost become a cliché in New England that players who join the Patriots post-training camp ‘need a full year in the system to truly make a difference.’ Given the complexity of what the Patriots do, a fully immersive offseason has shown to be a huge help for players brought in mid-season.

Wide receiver Mohamed Sanu is one of those players, acquired via trade last October. While Sanu did find some success before an ankle injury limited him down the stretch, he did look lost at times in the Patriots offense. With essentially no time to learn the playbook (Bill Belichick told reporters that the team “isn’t teaching” at that stage of the season), Sanu was limited in what he could do, which certainly didn’t help.

Now with a full offseason to prepare, the 31-year-old is seeing things much clearer. “I get to understand why I’m doing something, not just doing something just because I’m told to do it,” Sanu told reporters on Wednesday.

MORE: Wednesday’s training camp breakdown

Knowing not just their own role, but the movements of all 11 guys on the field, is crucial for players who want to succeed with the Patriots. (Brandon Copeland highlighted as much for the defensive side of the ball last week.) In being able to learn the entire playbook instead of just his assignment, Sanu now has a deeper grasp on the overall objectives of each play.

“I’m understanding why you’re doing something, where you fit in, how to help the offense be better,” he said. “It’s a big difference versus going in and just trying to do your best and fit in.”

Of the receivers dealt at last year’s NFL trade deadline, Sanu stands out in that he was the only player not on an expiring contract, which is likely part of what interested the Patriots. With the context of the offense now in hand thanks to the full offseason he spent with the team, Sanu is in position to reward the Patriots for paying for the extra year of control.

Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at