ATLANTA -- If there's one word to describe the way Mohamed Sanu plays the game, it would be "fearless," according to Matt Ryan.
And on Sunday night, that was tough to argue. Sanu finished the night with five catches for 85 yards. But it was how and where he made those five catches that turned some heads, including his quarterback's.
Ryan found Sanu over the middle several times -- including one important third down conversion -- showing Sanu's confidence and willingness to make plays in traffic.
It's something Pro Bowl wide receiver Julio Jones says is rare in today's game.
"A lot of receivers don't want to go across the middle," Jones said. "They are scared to get hit sometimes, things like that. We have a lot of rules put in place for our safety, but guys are still kind of timid to go across the middle. Mohamed does a great job and it's because of practice. The way we practice – stepping to the ball across the middle, making big plays. He's a special player for us."
At 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, Sanu presents a unique challenge for opponents to defend in the slot. Typically, what slot receivers lack in size, they make up for with their speed. But Sanu is not only has the size, he also has the speed.
Making him a tough matchup for defensive coordinators to game plan against.
"He is unique because often times a person that plays in the slot is a smaller guy who has really good change of direction," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. "He just happens to be a taller guy who can bend and still change direction. So you can imagine how difficult that is for option routes to cover somebody who has the change of direction beat man to man and still have aggressive hands. He's a very difficult matchup inside."
Between what Jones can provide on area of the field and Sanu's evolved role, this receiver duo continues to pose quite the threat.
For Ryan, the ability to have two big targets inside and outside at his disposal is a "game-changer."
Sanu and Jones combined for 193 receiving yards for the Falcons in their 34-23 win over the Packers. Atlanta travels to Detroit next to play the Lions (1-0).