Bengals factoid: Mohamed Sanu in the slot

May, 29, 2014
May 29
10:45
AM ET
See? Told you Wednesday that we'd get into a rhythm on these Cincinnati Bengals factoids. Expect to see them every weekday between now and start of the season.

Here's Thursday's factoid: 48.9

Royster
Sanu
There's been a perception that Bengals receiver Mohamed Sanu's production took a hit last season after he was rarely heard from following his head-turning 2012 rookie season. In nine games, Sanu caught 16 passes for 154 yards and had four touchdown receptions. His future in Cincinnati seemed tremendously bright.

The thing about perceptions, though, is that they are sometimes wrong. In all honesty, Sanu actually had a rather productive second season even though he may not have recorded the types of statistics many around Who Dey Nation were expecting before the season began. Touchdowns were the only area where a true drop-off was detected. After having four touchdown receptions in 2012, he had just two in 2012. Otherwise, in 16 games last season he had more receptions and receiving yards than he might have had had he played a full schedule last season. Using his 2012 stats through the nine games he appeared in, one can see that he would have been projected to catch just 28 passes for 274 yards. He also would have had seven touchdowns.

Sanu in 2013 had 47 receptions for 455 yards to go along with his two touchdowns.

As a result of his perceived lack of production -- a perception borne mostly out of Marvin Jones' electrifying play that pushed Jones ahead of Sanu and into the Bengals' No. 2 receiver's role -- there has been concern this offseason about where Sanu might fit in the Bengals' offense. If he isn't lining up at one of the top two outside receiver positions, the slot would be the logical place for him to go.

It could happen.

Last season, 48.9 percent of Sanu's receptions came when he was lined up as a slot receiver. He had 24 receptions when flanked wide, and 23 when playing inside. Of his 23 slot receptions, 14 came when he lined up on the left side. Nine came from the right side. His 23 slot receptions were more than any other receiver had while playing that position. Of A.J. Green's 98 receptions, 20 came from the slot.

Sanu also had more drops last season on the inside than he did playing on the outside. He couldn't hold on to three passes while in the slot. He dropped two as an outside receiver.

As far as the balls he did catch, not only did Sanu have nearly as many receptions while in the slot as he did on the outside, he also ran more plays from the slot. He ran 209 routes as an inside receiver last year as opposed to 198 along the outer edge.

So could Sanu end up as one of the Bengals' top options as a slot receiver this season? The numbers suggest he could be, and already has been.

Information from ESPN Stats & Information was used in this report.

Coley Harvey

ESPN Cincinnati Bengals reporter

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