In the two years that Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson spent in Oakland, he helped 255-lb Marcel Reece earn the nickname the “Matchup Nightmare.” Jackson used Reece as a fullback, tailback, and even had him line up at wide receiver to take advantage of his unique skills as a runner and receiver.
Could Jackson have similar things in mind for Mohamed Sanu?
“He’s got me doing some stuff,” said Sanu with a grin. “I love it. I’m embracing it and I’m going to do everything that I can to make sure that I’m the best at it.”
Sanu was a jack-of-all-trades in three years at Rutgers, finishing his career with 12 TD catches, 9 TD runs, and 4 TD passes. In two years with the Bengals, Sanu has 63 receptions, 9 rushing attempts, and has completed both of his passes – including a 73-yard touchdown to A.J. Green (watch it here).
“Mo is a dynamic player,” said Green. “You saw what he did in college and we’re trying to use his abilities in this offense. He can run the ball, throw the ball, and catch the ball – he can do about anything with a football.”
Sanu obviously isn’t as physically imposing as the two-time Pro Bowler Reece, but he’s a solid 6’2”, 210 pounds and has looked good in the Bengals recent offseason practices.
“He’s rolling,” said Marvin Jones. “He’s gotten a lot faster and more explosive and it’s good to see out there.”
“He’s running a lot better I think than he has the last two years,” said Andy Dalton. “He looks smooth and I think his speed has increased. It’s been fun to see all of the things that he does. He’s a guy that’s outside, inside, and can play all of the positions. You need a guy on the team like that that can do it all.”
Sanu was the Bengals fourth-leading receiver last year, finishing with 47 grabs for 455 yards (9.7 yards per catch), but wasn’t satisfied with his production.
“I was a little disappointed,” Mohamed told me. “I didn’t feel that I played as well as I should have so I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder.
“I have high expectations for myself and when I don’t perform the way I should perform, I hold it against myself. It makes me work that much harder because I know that I can help this offense more.”
“It’s been funny, he and Marvin Jones have kind of been in a horse race,” said Marvin Lewis. “One edges out one for a second, and then the other one edges ahead. It’s been a back-and-forth throughout their careers, and as rookies, we never really got them out there suited up the same week. Last year we were able to. But I think it’s been a good competition throughout. They both want to play. They both want to be the starting wide receiver opposite A.J. and that’s what you want to have.”
After catching 51 passes for 712 yards and 10 touchdowns last year, Jones appears to be the front-runner for the starting spot opposite of Green, but Sanu is confident that Hue Jackson will find plenty of ways for him to have an impact.
“I love Coach Jackson,” said Sanu. “He’s very demanding and that’s the kind of Coach I like. He gets the best out of you day in and day out. He has high expectations for this offense and everybody in it. That’s what I love and that’s what I thrive under.
“I’m uncommon because I can do a lot of different things and play a lot of different positions. I have a lot of different talents, but it’s up to me to show it.”
Whether it’s running, catching, or throwing.
“Whatever coach wants me to do, I’m going to do,” said Sanu.
“That’s the type of versatility that a team longs for and that we have,” said Jones. “He’s a great talent and we’re definitely happy that he’s on our side.”
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