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Where has Bengals wide receiver Mohamed Sanu gone?

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Mohamed Sanu was on pace for 1,256 yards receiving earlier this year. Now he may not even reach 800 yards.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

When Cincinnati disposed of Jacksonville in a 33-23 win on Nov. 2, the Bengals had reached the midseason point with five wins unexpectedly joined by an unconventional tie -- actually ties are generally unconventional in football, so whatever. At some point during that span, A.J. Green suffered a toe injury against the Atlanta Falcons and re-aggravated the injury during practice leading up to Carolina. All-in-all, Green missed three-plus games by week nine.

They needed help in the passing game. Tyler Eifert and Marvin Jones were out and Jermaine Gresham was... well, Jermaine Gresham.

Third-year receiver Mohamed Sanu stepped into the premiere role and by week nine, was on pace for 78 receptions, 1,256 yards receiving and eight touchdowns. Maybe those numbers wouldn't earn a pro bowl nomination but the conversation existed. Along with the numbers as a receiver, he was generating a perfect passer rating and pooching practice kicks like another former Bengals wide receiver.

Along with helping alleviate the absence of Green, Sanu was supplementing the loss of Marvin Jones, who suffered a season-ending injury in August.

And then.


Sanu had a decent five-catch outing against Houston with a touchdown but in the six other games during the second half of the season, Sanu hasn't posted more than 23 yards receiving or three receptions in any one game. Over the last four game's generated six total receptions for 55 yards receiving. It's the type of production that asks:

1) Is he hurt? 
2) Did Andy Dalton lose trust (see below)? 
3) Did the offense lose trust in the passing game as a whole?

Unfortunately, Sanu, the team's most versatile talent is known for one other thing. Sanu has dropped 14 catchable passes this year, which is tops in the NFL. Second-most is New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman with 11 and a slew of players following him at nine and ten. Pro Football Focus has scored Sanu with a collective grade of -8.1 in the passing game during the second half of the season (last seven games).

Has trust in Sanu fallen? The amount of times that Sanu has been targeted in each of the last four games is 3, 3, 3, and 2. Prior to week 13 against the Buccaneers, Dalton was averaging 7.73 targets per game. Granted the team's offensive philosophy began shifting towards A.J. Green, who was slowly getting healthier throughout the second half of the season... but THAT much?

Receptions 39 16
Yards 628 146
Targets 65 31
Avg. 16.1 9.1
Touchdowns 4 1

It's not playing time -- Sanu has surpassed 60 snaps in five of the last seven games and his lowest output was 53 snaps against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Regardless of what's happened, Sanu may not even reach 60 receptions or 800 yards receiving.

Oh where, o' where, has our Sanu gone?