CINCINNATI -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Cincinnati Bengals training camp:
There are two types of pass-catchers in the game of football: Those who catch with their hands, and those who catch with their bodies. Count Mohamed Sanu among the former. For as long as he can remember, Sanu has used his body to glide toward the ball and his hands to snatch it out of the air -- even at times when other receivers might use the unpopular, unconventional style of body-catching. Sometimes, the body catch is about all a receiver feels like he can do in order to grab the ball before getting smacked by a defender. We're highlighting Sanu's hands style of catching here because he showcased it regularly Wednesday afternoon as the Bengals went through their second-to-last open practice of the preseason. Perhaps his best catch came along a sideline when he got both feet down after jumping over reserve cornerback Victor Hampton and catching a pass mid-air before it hit Hampton's back.
When offensive coordinator Hue Jackson spoke to me after practice about how impressed he's been with Sanu in this camp, he noted that he sees a different player from the one who was the No. 3 wideout last season. What's different exactly? "Just the consistency," Jackson said. "The consistency of production of the way he plays. He plays like a true starter." Jackson added that he thought Sanu played like a starter before, and added that he's noticed a slightly different edge to him this season. Perhaps Jackson's proudest moment of the day, with respect to Sanu, came early in the practice when the receiver beat Adam Jones on a go route into the end zone. The pass was overthrown by Andy Dalton, but the move to get separation had Jackson loudly screaming, "Attaway, Mo!"
While Sanu impressed offensively Wednesday, safety George Iloka turned heads defensively. It was primarily for his enforcer style of play. Twice he roughed up rookie receiver Colin Lockett at the end of plays. He gave him one hard forearm early in the practice when Lockett had caught a pass along the sideline and was turning to head up the field. Lockett had to take a knee right after the contact. At least he was wearing shoulder pads for it. Near the end of the workout, long after the Bengals had removed their shoulder pads to finish the practice in only their jerseys, shorts and helmets, Iloka struck the rookie again at the end of a route. "We're not playing against the Bengals, they're not on our schedule, but some things happen in practice," defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said. "You can't tell a dog not to eat red meat. We've just got to take care of our guys and continue to be aggressive."
The Bengals took care of several veteran players Wednesday when they gave them the day off. Cornerback Leon Hall, defensive end Robert Geathers and offensive linemen Clint Boling and Mike Pollak didn't practice. Boling and Pollak appeared to be getting an off day after a rather rigorous week of work ahead of Saturday's preseason home opener against the Jets. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict and receiver A.J. Green started practice but didn't finish it. Neither did backup quarterback Matt Scott, who coach Marvin Lewis said had a sore shoulder. Lewis added he'd play Saturday. Defensive tackle Domata Peko returned to team drills after being limited Tuesday. Fellow tackle Brandon Thompson also came back after being ill Tuesday.
Up next: Thursday is the final open practice of the year for the Bengals. They get going at 11:15 a.m. ET.