Ryan, Sanu will set aside friendship
FOXBOROUGH, MASS. After the New England Patriots won the AFC Championship Game, cornerback Logan Ryan sent his former roommate a text message.
“I gave him the little emoji with the two eyes,” Ryan told reporters. “And he gave me the emoji with the two eyes back, so that’s all that has been said.”
Ryan used to live with wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, one of the Atlanta Falcons whom the Patriots will face on Feb. 5 in Super Bowl LI.
Sanu and Ryan spent two years together in a dorm when they played at Rutgers. They were in separate bedrooms but shared space in a four- person suite.
“We always had a good time when we were around each other,” Sanu said. “He’s one of those hard workers. We always pushed each other. Our lockers were right next to each other in the locker room, and we competed in everything.”
Sanu and Ryan might get that chance one more time.
In the AFC title victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Patriots opted to have corner Malcolm Butler shadow star receiver Antonio Brown, with safety help over the top on most plays. Since Atlanta features all- pro receiver Julio Jones, whom New England defensive coordinator Matt Patricia called “probably just one of the most dynamic players in the league,” the Patriots could employ a similar strategy in the Super Bowl with Butler trailing Jones.
That could leave a lot of matchups between Sanu and Ryan.
“He’s very patient,” Sanu said of Ryan. “He knows what your tendencies are. He studies a lot of film. You’ve got to study just as much as him.”
Sanu caught 59 passes for 653 yards and four touchdowns in his first season with the Falcons and has added 96 yards and two more scores on nine catches in two postseason games.
Ryan, meanwhile, posted 92 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, 11 passes defended and two interceptions in 2016 and has added 16 more tackles, one sack, four pass break- ups and one interception in two playoff games.
Sanu was originally recruited to Rutgers as a safety but was later moved to receiver. Once he switched to offense, he and Ryan regularly competed in practice.
“He’s a great guy,” Ryan said. “Our friendship is our friendship, but I think we’re both competitors on the field, and we competed hard at Rutgers, regardless of whether we were friends.
“That’s how it’s going to be on Sunday. Whenever I’m on him — if I am — I’m going to try my best and do what I need to do for our teams. And at the end, we’ll shake hands, for sure.”