Atlanta will not reconvene team activities until the start of training camp in late July, but Sanu continues to sharpen his skills by catching passes from former Falcons' ball boy Deshaun Watson in the meantime. With three years remaining on his current deal, the veteran receiver looks to collaborate with Julio Jones to help shape Calvin Ridley into a polished pro. Coming off a season in which he collected a career-high 67 receptions and five touchdowns, it will be intriguing to see whether Sanu can maintain this elevated level of production with another potentially high-volume target in Ridley being added to the fold.
Sanu established career highs in receptions during each of the past two seasons (59 catches in 2016 and 67 in 2017), but the Falcons have not acquired a wide receiver of Calvin Ridley's caliber since trading up 21 spots to select Julio Jones in the 2011 draft. In fact, Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that general manager Thomas Dimitroff called Ridley's agent on Thursday afternoon to inform him that the Falcons were considering moving up ahead of receiver-deprived teams like Baltimore, Dallas and Carolina to ensure that they got their guy. Sanu didn't do himself any favors last season by finishing top five in the NFL in drops with six, and he will turn 29 before the Falcons travel to Philadelphia to take on the defending champions Week 1. As a quality blocker, exceptional route runner and electrifying playmaker, Ridley may have what it takes to capture Atlanta's No. 2 receiver job by the end of the summer, diminishing Sanu's relevance in the process.
Given that there was no report of offseason surgery, Sanu's inclusion in the rehab group comes as a bit of a surprise. He dealt with a hamstring injury in October and a knee issue in December and January, but his only absence of the 2017 season occurred Week 6. Whatever the issue may be, it's a good sign that Sanu is at least healthy enough to do rehab work on a field as the Falcons begin their offseason program. He'll likely be back at full strength before training camp, where he figures to operate as the team's No. 2 receiver.
Sanu caught three balls for 50 yards in a 15-10 loss to the Eagles in the divisional round.
Sanu only saw five targets on a day where a whopping 16 targets went to Julio Jones. Sanu's 67 receptions on the year were a personal best, and his five touchdowns tied his career high, but it was hardly a break out season for the sixth-year receiver. He's under contract for three more years, and as of now there's little reason for a big change in his expected production in 2018.
Sanu (knee) will be available for Saturday's divisional-round contest at Philadelphia, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com reports.
The Falcons held back Sanu in each practice this week, terming him a limited participant along the way. No matter, he joined his fellow injured teammates and was cleared entirely for the second round of the postseason. There's a fair chance Sanu will be able to make headway Saturday against the Eagles defense, which conceded 150.6 receiving yards per game and eight touchdowns to wide receivers over the final five outings of the regular season.
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