After two inauspicious performances to start the preseason, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Mohamed Sanu stood out in Sunday's road game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Facing a hard-nosed NFC West defense, the third-year player managed to nab five receptions for 70 yards even as the Bengals' first-team offense struggled and produced just two field goals in the first half.
Jay Morrison of Cox Media Group noted how Sanu came into his own—and that was before the young wideout's final catch of the evening:
But to endorse Sanu as more than a flex fantasy option at the moment would be a bit of an overreaction to what he did in the NFL's exhibition phase.
Cincinnati is counting on the former third-round pick to step up at least for the beginning of the regular season while Marvin Jones recovers from foot surgery. That is a lot to ask from a player who has averaged less than 10 yards per catch in his limited NFL experience.
Before last week's preseason contest against the New York Jets, Sanu discussed stepping in for Jones, via ESPN.com's Coley Harvey:
I'm going to step up that much more to fill Marvin's [shoes]. That's to just keep doing what I'm doing. Keep playing and keep being consistent. That's pretty much it. I can't see what's going on in the future, but I know what I can handle and I know what I can control, and that's putting my effort in and doing whatever I can to make this team better.
Quarterback Andy Dalton is facing high expectations and can use another capable playmaker other than superstar receiver A.J. Green. Sanu has the potential to be just that, and he flashed his skills Sunday, showing off strong hands, good vision after the catch and nice speed for his size.
Jones has more big-play potential, though, evidenced by his 10 touchdowns on just 51 receptions in 2013, and he isn't expected to miss too many games.
The Bengals are in a new offense under coordinator Hue Jackson that is bound to be focused more on the running game. However, with defenses flocking to Green and likely double-teaming him, there is some reason to consider Sanu as a flex play, especially before Jones returns to the lineup.