How Cincinnati Bengals Can Get the Most out of Dane Sanzenbacher in 2014

Andrew Dunn@atdu222Correspondent IISeptember 16, 2014

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher warms up prior to an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Frank Victores)
Frank Victores/Associated Press

Dane Sanzenbacher—a fourth-year veteran who was undrafted out of Ohio State—has largely been ineffective in a Cincinnati Bengals uniform.  Given the whole "undrafted" part, the lack of production likely wouldn't make anyone give a second look.

However, his rookie season in Chicago showed signs of promise.  Sanzenbacher caught 27 passes for 276 yards and three touchdowns.  That won't turn many heads, but it isn't bad for a guy that no one wanted to take a chance on after seven rounds of the 2011 NFL draft.

Given the injury bug that seems to be running rampant in the Bengals locker room, it's time for the team to utilize the former Buckeye.  A.J. Green and Marvin Jones, the team's top two receivers, could both be missing action in Week 3 against Tennessee.  When you add those two to the missing Tyler Eifert, quarterback Andy Dalton's throwing options are going to be slim.

Of course, he still has Jermaine Gresham and Giovani Bernard to throw to, but the injuries to Green and Jones leave Mohamed Sanu, Brandon Tate, rookie James Wright and Sanzenbacher remaining in the receiving corps.

What that means is that Sanu will likely be the starting wideout, complemented on the opposite side by Tate.  Sanzenbacher is not built for the outside and sees most of his action out of the slot. At 5'11", 184 pounds, he won't be winning any jump balls, either.

What the offense will have to do is integrate both Sanzenbacher and Gresham into several plays.  Having those two cross in the middle of the field simultaneously should leave one of them open.

Gresham, the team's now-starting tight end, is big and physical while Sanzenbacher is short and quick—he was among the leaders in the three-cone drill, 20-yard shuttle and 60-yard shuttle at the combine in 2011 (per NFL.com).  Both can be lethal against opposing defenses, and forcing teams to pick one or the other will give them fits. 

Though Dalton has seemingly improved his deep-ball accuracy this season, he's still best served to throw short passes across the middle.  They are arguably the easiest passes to throw, and that's where Sanzenbacher will be.

Now that the offense is short-handed, someone new has to be integrated into the offense.  Bernard will carry this team only so far despite the ridiculous talent he possesses.

Dalton is still going to chuck downfield passes and go to the sidelines, but Sanzenbacher can be a huge asset to this team if used in the right way.  He's only caught two passes thus far, but that should change if Green misses extended time.  

Short catch-and-runs, similar to what we saw from Bernard on Sunday, will be the main key to using a guy like Sanzenbacher.  It worked perfectly for Andrew Hawkins when he was in Cincinnati, and Sanzenbacher can be that guy for this team.

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