Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher said there is one important thing people should know about his strong performance in Thursday’s 34-10 win at Atlanta:
“I think one thing I’ve learned throughout the camps is that it’s a long haul and you’ve got to keep building,” Sanzenbacher said. “You can’t expect early success, or what looks like success on paper, to get blown out of proportion and relax on it. There is a lot of stuff to correct, and that’s my strength right now is being aware of that.”
Sanzenbacher caught a 39-yard touchdown pass from Josh Johnson and also returned a punt 71 yards for a touchdown to help the Bengals roll up their highest point total in a preseason opener since 1995.
It was a strong showing for the former Ohio State standout, who finds himself in a battle for a roster spot at one of the deepest positions on the team.
“I’ve had two camps with this storyline,” he said. “So it’s not new territory for me.”
Sanzenbacher heard from friends and family after the game, and most were talking about the enthusiastic comments ESPN announcer Jon Gruden made about him.
While announcing his punt-return touchdown, play-by-play man Mike Tirico said, “Here goes Sanzenbacher,” prompting Gruden to jump in with, “Is that Sanzenbacher!? I love that name. He’s not the biggest wide receiver, he’s not the fastest wide receiver. Nobody wanted him at the Combine. All this kid does is make plays.”
Gruden went on to have some fun just pronouncing Sanzenbacher’s name.
“People have been talking about it,” Sanzenbacher said. “I haven’t actually met him, but he loves throwing the last name out there.”
Hawkins update: Receiver Andrew Hawkins had his sprained left ankle placed in a cast that he will wear for 10 days, making it unlikely he will be ready for the Sept. 8 season opener in Chicago.
Hawkins, who injured the ankle in practice Aug. 1 after he dove for a ball and had cornerback Brandon Ghee step on him, will be reevaluated after the cast is removed.
“It allows the opportunity to make sure we don’t inadvertently injure it more,” head coach Marvin Lewis said. “It gives it a chance to settle down and begin to mend. He’s very optimistic that he’ll be ready to go at some point here, so we’ll see.”
There is a chance Hawkins could be placed on injured reserve with the designation for return.
“Right now he has a chance to be a candidate for that,” Lewis said.
Last year the Bengals used the new designated-for-return rule on center Kyle Cook, who missed the first 12 games with an injured ankle before returning to action in December.
Hawkins was third on the team last year in receptions (51), receiving yards (533) and receiving touchdowns (four).
Hawkinson update: The Bengals got more encouraging news on guard/tackle Tanner Hawkinson, who suffered an ankle injury Thursday night in Atlanta.
“His status has actually been improved,” Lewis said. “He will likely not play this week and practice, but we hope to get him back as soon as possible.”
Roster move: Due to Hawkinson’s injury, the Bengals resigned guard Otis Hudson.
A second-year player out of Eastern Illinois, Hudson was on the Bengals active roster for seven games last year but did not appear in any. The club did not offer him a contract in the offseason, so Hudson was ready to move on.
“I was in the process of trying to be an interior designer,” he said. “I was just trying to find myself in the whole process, to see if football was really for me. I think I’m going to play for a while and worry about after football when that time comes.”