FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- While players around the NFL continue to prepare for the upcoming season, Falcons wide receiver Mohamed Sanu already looks to be in mid-season form.
Entering his second season in Atlanta, Sanu has been a standout thus far in the preseason. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound receiver caught 59 passes for 653 yards and four touchdowns in 2016, and Pro Football Focus determined that Sanu has been the most sure-handed player over the past two seasons.
The talent on the Falcons' offense is well-known, but Sanu may surprise those who haven't followed the team closely this offseason. Speaking with the media on Thursday, coach Dan Quinn said Sanu has worked extremely hard to improve ahead of the 2017 season.
"When he came back for the offseason, he was intent on throwing a hell of an offseason," Quinn said. "And that part of his game he really came in more fit, stronger, really like at the top of it heading into the offseason, which is not always easy to do – sometimes guys are dealing with injury or something as they're coming back – but for him, he really went for it."
Although he's a bigger, more physical receiver, Sanu actually served as a valuable weapon from the slot position for the Falcons last year. Per PFF, Sanu had the highest catch rate from the slot among NFL receivers in 2016.
Sanu's size can allow for an advantage in the slot, where most teams will use a slower linebacker or safety or a smaller nickel corner to cover a receiver, but it's his agility that helps him make the most of his physical stature. "He threw a good camp; he got improved on certain things," Quinn said. "Inside in the slot, for a big guy, he still has good change of direction to break a guy off in the slot. Although he's 220 pounds, he can change direction like a smaller player. And that kind of size in the slot, you can see the advantage that would have. He's a real valuable factor for us in the passing game."