FOXBORO, Mass. — Mohamed Sanu is doing all he can to help N’Keal Harry along as the New England Patriots rookie prepares for his NFL debut.
Last week, Sanu was seen giving Harry a post-practice lesson in route-running in the Patriots locker room. On Thursday, as a horde of media members swarmed around Harry’s locker for the first-round draft pick’s first chat with reporters since August, Sanu spoke first to take some pressure off the young wideout.
Holding court two stalls down, Sanu offered some words of wisdom for Harry, who has yet to appear in a game for New England since being activated off injured reserve Nov. 2.
“He’s been around for a little bit,” Sanu said. “You’ve just got to go out and let him have fun. Don’t let him think too much of it. I know it’s his first NFL game and whatever; he’s going to feel what he’s going to feel. But let him go out there, have fun and play football.
“He’s a special kid. (I’d tell him to) go ahead and be himself and let his abilities take over. Don’t think too much. Have fun. He’ll be good.”
That advice doesn’t just apply to rookies with no NFL experience. When Sanu joined the Patriots via trade last month, he needed to quickly digest and internalize New England’s notoriously complex playbook so that when he took the field, he wasn’t constantly wracking his brain to recall his assignment on each play.
It didn’t take him long to build that knowledge base, Sanu said, as evidenced by the 10 catches for 81 yards and a touchdown he tallied in his second game in a Patriots uniform.
“If you don’t understand it, you’ve got to think,” Sanu said. “So you’ve got to make sure you understand it and get up to speed so when you go out there, you don’t think. Because when you’re thinking, you’re a step behind, a step late, a miss here or there. That’s when bad stuff happens.”
Now a seasoned veteran in his eighth season, Sanu recalled the minor role he played in his first NFL game back in 2012 — a 44-13 beatdown his Cincinnati Bengals suffered at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens. He expects Harry’s first taste of regular-season pro football — which could come Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles — to play out differently.
“It was Monday night versus the Ravens,” the 30-year-old said. “My first game, I dressed up. I didn’t really play much, but we got whooped pretty good. Ray Lewis came out, and I’m sitting there like, ‘Man, this is insane.’ But it was different. I don’t know what it’s going to be like for (Harry), but for me, I got in at the end a little bit, played some plays, gave it all I had.
“But I’m sure he’ll get a lot more plays than I did my first debut.”
Thumbnail photo via Douglas DeFelice/USA TODAY Sports Images