With Hawkins Injured, Dane Sanzenbacher Could Grab Roster Spot

Cincinnati Bengals receiver Dane Sanzenbacher runs after a catch during an NFL football team practice Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (AP Photo/Michael E. Keating)

Dane, welcome back to Ohio.

For many second and third string players, the NFL preseason is the only chance they have to prove themselves in action against another team.  Therefore, making the most of that small amount of time is paramount.

As for Dane Sanzenbacher, he certainly seems to be taking advantage of the time given to him.

Coming out of Ohio State, Sanzenbacher played for Chicago in his first year.  Although he was the first undrafted rookie on the Bears to score more than one touchdown (Sanzenbacher had three touchdowns on 27 receptions), he was released on December 24, 2012.

The Bengals didn’t waste any time in signing the former-Buckeye star. In fact, the news that Sanzenbacher would be moving to Cincinnati came on Christmas, the following day.

However, with one of Cincinnati’s most competitive young receiving corps in years, he’s faced an uphill battle to have a shot at the final roster leading up to the season opener.

What’s the old saying? One man’s misfortune is another man’s gain.  Recently, Andrew Hawkins suffered a high ankle sprain that will have him in a cast.  The time that Cincinnati’s famous “Baby Hawk” will miss is uncertain at this point, as an ankle sprain is a difficult injury to judge.

This fact may propose an unlikely opening for Sanzenbacher.  The 5’, 11” receiver has a lot of the same skills that Hawkins brings to the slot position for the Bengals.  Although he may lack the pure explosive agility that Hawkins demonstrated in open field multiple times, Sanzenbacher makes up for that with very solid hands and good speed of his own.  You can refer to his 36 yard reception from John Skelton in the preseason opener if you don’t believe me.  Sanzenbacher splits the corner and the free safety, reeling in the catch on a perfect seam-route.

That’s without even mentioning the line-drive punt returned 71 yards for a touchdown earlier in the game.  Sanzenbacher shows his impressive downfield vision on the return, weaving up the middle and then down the sideline.

All I’m saying is that we could very well be seeing Sanzenbacher with a real chance soon enough.  You know, in a game where getting a win actually counts.

Let us know what you think!