- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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Bengals fans were scratching their heads this offseason when trying to decide who would be the Bengals' No. 2 target this season.
Was it going to be Armon Binns, Brandon Tate or Mohamed Sanu? Was tight end Jermaine Gresham going to step up this year? Everyone overlooked Andrew Hawkins. It's easy to do because he's 5-foot-7, 180 pounds.
Through the first two weeks of the season, Hawkins has emerged as the Bengals' top playmaking option next to A.J. Green. He might not be able to keep up this pace throughout the season, but he is certainly turning heads right now. As the Bengals' slot receiver, Hawkins leads the team in receiving yards (142) and ranks second to Green with 10 catches.
His shining moment came Sunday against the Browns when he caught a short pass from a scrambling Andy Dalton and zigzagged his way through the Cleveland defense for a 50-yard touchdown. It was the decisive score in the game because it answered a Browns' touchdown and put the Bengals ahead, 31-17, with 11 minutes to play.
Not too bad for a former CFL player who wasn't a lock to beat out Jordan Shipley for the slot receiver job this summer.
“Hawk is so talented when he’s got the ball in his hands and when he’s got some space," Dalton said. "For him, it’s just getting him the ball -- find ways to get him in that space. That shows what kind of plays he can make and shows what kind of runs he can make after the catch.”
STAT THAT STICKS: 5 -- Punt returns for touchdowns by Adam Jones in his six-year career. It might be time to have him field more punts. His last three returns have gone for 63 yards, 4 yards and the 81-yarder for a touchdown Sunday against Cleveland.
OVERHEARD: “We’re really almost going to have to put [A.J. Green] on the sideline some and go to work. I think for the first time everybody realized that. People don’t like to see 18 beating them on "SportsCenter." He had some great plays today, he’s a very good player and we’ll continue finding things to shake him clean.” -- Head coach Marvin Lewis on defenses focusing on Green, who had 58 yards on seven catches.
WHAT'S AHEAD: The Bengals (1-1) head to Washington for the Redskins' home opener. The Redskins (1-1) are coming off a 31-28 loss at St. Louis.