Members of the media were allowed to watch one of the Bengals three practices this week, and I came away very impressed by rookie wide receiver Mohamed Sanu.
But what do I know?
Seeking an expert opinion, I asked A.J. Green for his initial impressions of the third round draft pick out of Rutgers.
“Man, that guy is smooth,” said Green. “He works the middle really well. A lot of people have questioned his speed, but the guy has ‘football speed.’ It’s just like myself. A lot of people say that he didn’t run the fastest, but you see him on the field and he’s fluid in-and-out of his breaks, he catches everything with his hands, and he attacks the ball. He’s going to be a special one.”
I guess my impression was accurate.
In the Bengals first practice of the three-week OTA period, Sanu caught a long touchdown pass from Zac Robinson and several intermediate throws from Andy Dalton.
“I felt good out there,” Sanu told me. “I’m just trying to do my job because that’s what you have to do to be successful in this league. I’m going to learn as much as I can and do my job to the best of my abilities. It’s all about understanding and knowing where you fit in.”
“I’m excited,” said quarterback Andy Dalton. “He’s definitely showing some good things out there, and once he gets a good feel for everything, I think he’s going to be a good player for us. He has a bigger body and he has some shiftiness to him. And he does a good job of coming back to the ball.”
Sanu lined-up in a variety of spots, and appears to have the ability to contribute both wide and in the slot.
“They have me inside and outside, so I’m going to do whatever they want me to do and try to help the team out as much as I can,” said Sanu. “I definitely think that that’s one of my strengths. I think I can use that to my advantage and be productive inside and outside.”
“You can tell that he’s done some of the things that we’re asking him to do before,” said Dalton. “He’s a friendly target out there.”
“I’m asking (Dalton) a lot of questions and making sure that we’re on the same page,” said Sanu. “I’m trying to learn from him because he’s been here for a year, he’s done it, and he knows the offense like the back of his hand.
“Football is football. You have to learn the system and there are differences, but most of the systems are similar. You just have to learn your assignment and figure out where you fit in.”
And the word appears to be spreading that Sanu could be a perfect fit Cincinnati.
“(Sanu) is already off to an impressive start, easily standing out at last weekend’s Bengals rookie minicamp, drawing both praise and a prediction of early contributions from head coach Marvin Lewis,” wrote Don Banks from SI.com. “Cincinnati has a decent history of rookie impact from receivers, getting that monster debut season from first-rounder A.J. Green last year (65 catches for 1,057 yards and seven touchdowns), and a seven-touchdown showing from third-rounder Chris Henry in 2005. Sanu is an ideal complement to Green’s outside speed and vertical game, and he’ll work the inside and underneath routes with both precision and determination, pulling down plenty of catches in a crowd or despite solid coverage. NFL scouts worried about his ability to separate this spring, but come September, Sanu will be putting plenty of distance between himself and most of the league’s other rookie receivers.”
“I’m telling you – a lot of the older guys here compare him to T.J. Houshmandzadeh.,” said Green. “He can stretch the field and I think he’s really going to help us out this year.”
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