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Published: Tuesday, 9/3/2013 - Updated: 10 months ago

Sanzenbacher makes NFL cut

Former OSU standout of modest stature continues to defy the odds

BY DAVID BRIGGS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Cincinnati Bengals Wide Receiver Dane Sanzenbacher in action during a game against the Atlanta Falcons. Cincinnati Bengals Wide Receiver Dane Sanzenbacher in action during a game against the Atlanta Falcons.
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CINCINNATI — Central Catholic graduate and former Ohio State star receiver Dane Sanzenbacher continues to wag his finger at the odds.

Sanzenbacher is one of six receivers who made the Cincinnati Bengals’ final cut — marking the third straight year the 5-foot-11, 184-pound Toledo native will begin the season on a 53-man NFL roster.

A two-time All-Ohioan and 2010 OSU most valuable player, Sanzenbacher appeared a long shot to make the Bengals’ roster.

A strong preseason — including an exhibition opener in which he caught a 36-yard touchdown pass and returned a punt 71 yards for a score — made him indispensable as a slot man with return skills.

It should have been no surprise. Thought to be undersized, Sanzenbacher went undrafted after a stellar career with the Buckeyes. Yet he willed himself onto the Bears and had 27 receptions for 276 yards and three touchdowns — becoming the team’s first undrafted rookie wideout to have more than one touchdown since 1983.

Sanzenbacher made the Bears again last season despite the franchise adding five receivers over the offseason, including former Pro Bowl selections Brandon Marshall and Eric Weems and second-round pick Alshon Jeffery. He got stuck on the wrong side of a numbers game but found new life after being traded to the Bengals on Christmas day.

This year, as Sanzenbacher turned heads during camp, it appeared he and third-year Stanford alum Ryan Whalen were competing for the last of six receiver spots.

The Bengals kept both players, with an opening created in part by slot receiver and former Toledo Rocket Andrew Hawkins’ move Tuesday to the short-term injured reserve list (high ankle sprain).

Two other former Ohio State players — third-year running back Daniel Herron and rookie offensive tackle Reid Fragel — were among 20 players waived by the Bengals, though both signed to the team’s practice squad.

Browns sign Cundiff

CLEVELAND — Billy Cundiff’s last kicking job with the Browns was temporary. He’s got a more permanent gig now.

Cundiff reached agreement with Cleveland on Tuesday, filling an unexpected hole the Browns created with less than a week left before their season opener against the Miami Dolphins.

It’s Cundiff’s second stint with the Browns. Cundiff was with the club in 2009, when he made all six of his field-goal attempts while filling in for Phil Dawson, who was sidelined with a calf injury.

Cundiff replaces the dependable Dawson, the best field-goal kicker in Browns history and second-leading career scorer who didn’t re-sign after last season and is now with the San Francisco 49ers.

Contact David Briggs at: dbriggs@theblade.com, 419-724-6084 or on Twitter @DBriggsBlade.



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