On July 29th before Training Camp kicked off, the guys at Triple Threat Talk, which airs on AM 1450 The Sports Buzz in Louisville, Kentucky, were kind enough to host me to talk some Bengals. Mohamed Sanu, A.J. Green's potential extension and a myriad of other topics were touched on during part two of the interview. We posted the first part of the interview last Thursday. Have a listen at the embedded audio and/or look at the transcribed interview below.
My portion starts at about the 9:30 mark and goes to about the 27:10 mark. Cincy Jungle and myself extend our gratitude to Triple Threat Talk for allowing us the opportunity to join their program. Enjoy!
TTT: With Mohamed Sanu getting progressively better, and kind of finding his niche in the particular skill sets of "Wow, did that play just happen?", he's finding a lot of success in that little skill set right there. The coaching staff--do you see them setting up certain plays, given Mohamed Sanu's Liam Neeson-like certain set of skills?
AC: (Laughs) Um, maybe. I still think he's going to be the third receiver, and maybe at times, the third or fourth option in passing routes on this offense. I think the coaches are ecstatic to get Marvin Jones back to have that long, deep threat that they really didn't have too much last year. They also unfortunately lost A.J. Green here and there over the course of the season last year,. Mohamed Sanu had a pretty good season, given that he was their No. 1 receiver out there for a good stretch of time. But, the fact remains that Mohamed Sanu is a complementary NFL receiver. He's not going to be a very good primary guy--he's a guy you want as your No. 2 at the most, but most likely a No 3 guy. He can do some good things in the slot, he can do some creative things--we've seen him throw passes and do things like that.
He's a valuable guy to have in that respect, and has some good size to help you out in the red zone as well. I think if plays are going to be designed, it's going to be where he works out of the slot as a receiver and a lot of attention is given to A.J. Green, maybe to Marvin Jones, and Sanu gets a lot of one-on-one looks or finds holes in a defense to do some yards-after-the-catch things. He's made some spectacular plays, but he also had a knack for dropping the ball a little bit last year. So, it looks, if you follow Sanu on social media and whatnot, it looks like he's working really hard this offseason and a lot of training. Hopefully that pays off for him and he has a good year, along with a lot of the others on the offense.
TTT: Let the listeners now, as a follow-up here, you guys got some bad news with James Wright. Who do you guys see early on that could take his spot on the depth chart to give the Bengals a little more help at wide receiver?
AC: That's a great question. Nobody's really sure, yet. They picked up Denarius Moore in free agency, who was a guy on the Raiders with Hue Jackson, and he really likes him. That could be a guy that's kind of a No. 4 receiving option. The thing that Wright brought that Moore doesn't is some special teams ability. Wright was on kick coverage and whatnot, and if you know anything about Marvin Lewis, he likes guys at the bottom of their positional depth chart to contribute on special teams. So, I think Wright's going to be missed in that respect. It's also going to be interesting to see, now that Wright is out, what happens with Brandon Tate. We don't know.
They did draft Mario Alford in the seventh round and they think he's got some kick return ability, especially with his speed. But, they also seem to like the steady approach, if you will, of Brandon Tate. Some fans don't like what Brandon Tate brings to the return game, but he also brings a little bit of talent in the receiving game as well. Behind those top three guys, Green, Jones and Sanu, it's going to be interesting to see how the rest of this scrum plays out there. And, obviously, the back two or three guys beyond the top three will need to contribute on special teams somehow because that's what Marvin Lewis likes.
TTT: Speaking of A.J. Green, and I would kick myself if I don't bring this up--in your opinion, when does a contract extension get done with A.J. Green and the Cincinnati Bengals team? And, if not when, do you think it will even get done?
AC: Tough to say. Tough to say. I think, if you read and heard some of the things coming out of the team's media luncheon on Tuesday, Mike Brown basically said that he's going to be their top priority. Certain rumor mill things say that Green has been told he'll be the team's top priority this offseason, so he won't become a free agent next year. But, at a bare minimum, I think they franchise tag him for 2016, keep him around for another year, try to work out an extension if they are unable to this offseason and hammer it out long-term. Mike Brown likes to pay money to skill position players. We've seen it throughout the past 10-15 years--he's paid good money to left tackles, wide receivers, quarterbacks and is not shy about doing that.
So, I would expect the Bengals to make a hard push to do that. They've got some (cap) room to be creative to keep him around long-term, so there's really not an excuse other than A.J. Green not wanting to re-sign with Cincinnati. Indications I've heard is that he's pretty happy where he's at, the team has been competitive, he's putting up good numbers. He's a pretty low-key guy that just likes to go out and play football. If he gets paid and he's on a pretty competitive team, I think he'll want to stay with the Bengals if they give him a fair deal. Given their track record over the past few offseasons, the Bengals have extended many of their core players in the Training Camp portion of the offseason, so it wouldn't shock me if they got a deal done with Green. But, it's going to be one of the more expensive deals they've written out for a little while, so it might be as easy as some think.
TTT: Last thing before we get you out of here, they announced today that Leah Still is still cancer-free. How big of an emotional lift has this been for the team and how has the organization just wrapped their arms around this entire situation. You're in and out of the organization, what has this whole story meant from an emotional standpoint for the team and everyone involved.
AC: Well, this is a franchise, and unfortunately the owner has been the big target of criticism, but it's been an organization for a long time that didn't do great P.R. work, wasn't really present in the community, they kind of were locked up in their ivory tower, if you will. They'd just put a product on the field, sometimes it was good, a lot of times it wasn't--they've really done a good job with this situation. They've treated Devon Still very well and they know what he's going through and how emotionally hard of a time it has been for him. They made moves to be able to keep him around--he was cut last year and then they kept him on the Practice Squad to make sure that he continued to have medical coverage for his daughter, which was just a great gesture by the team.
You know, I think the team has rallied around it a little bit. I just think it also plays to the change in the locker room that the Bengals have and that we've currently seen over the past few seasons and the types of guys they bring in. This is not a team that's built around "paycheck players" and selfish guys, it's really a team-first mentality, guys really like each other in that locker room from what I've seen and heard...Last i checked, they raised close to $1.5 million in pediatric cancer research, based on an initiative they created from proceeds of Devon Still jersey sales. Pretty cool deal that they've done, obviously we hope the best for the little girl, she's been through a lot, but it sounds like things are kind of slowly creeping towards the positive and she's getting healthier. I think for, not only the team, but for Devon Still himself, that can only mean good things ahead if her prognosis continues to be positive. Still really looks like he's really dedicated himself to an offseason training regimen as well, and he has his mind more on football and is in a bit more of a positive state of mind, obviously he can help this team out too.