Updated: 1:45 p.m.
The Bengals playoff run underwent a major blow Friday when head coach Marvin Lewis revealed after practice that versatile rookie wide receiver Mohamed Sanu suffered a stress fracture in his left foot during Thursday's practice and indications are he's going on season-ending injured reserve after surgery Monday.
It's believed that Sanu broke the fifth metatarsal, an injury similar to the one former cornerback Johnathan Joseph suffered in the 2007 mandatory minicamp and current right tackle Andre Smith got during a 2010 practice. It's the long bone on the outside of the foot that connects to the little toe and it's seen as an injury that Sanu is going to have no problem overcoming. But since it happened with just five weeks left in the season he's got no chance of getting back in time.
Lewis indicated that wide receiver Andrew Hawkins (knee), limited Wednesday and Thursday but full go Friday, should be ready to go for Sunday's game in San Diego (4:25 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) against the Chargers. He'll take back the slot spot Sanu took when Hawkins went out with a knee injury suffered two Fridays ago in practice that took him out of the last two games.
Starting running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis surfaced on the injury report Friday with an ankle issue and was listed as limited but probable. Cornerback Terence Newman (shoulder), limited all week, was also probable. Everyone else was full go and probable except for tight end Richard Quinn (hamstring), who was questionable.
Sanu's loss is a big one to the offense for a variety of reasons. Sanu has not only caught the first four touchdown passes of his career in the last three games that have been the first three starts of his career and the Bengals have clicked for touchdowns on 11 of their last 13 red-zone trips with Sanu scoring three of them on third down, but he's done a little bit of everything else.
As a Wildcat quarterback against the Redskins, Sanu's first NFL pass was a 73-yard touchdown to wide receiver A.J. Green. He has also run for two first downs on third down and half of his 16 catches (154 yards) have come on third down.
Sanu played mainly in the slot on third down, as does Hawkins. Rookie wide receiver Marvin Jones, who missed a month with a sprained knee, returned last week and played nine snaps in last Sunday's win over the Raiders. Look for Jones to play more this Sunday.
"He's had two good weeks of practice," Lewis said. "This week was better than last week."
Lewis was left shaking his head. He had just promoted Sanu to starter on the depth chart on Tuesday.
"It's the first time we had all three guys, Marvin and Andrew (and Sanu) running and playing with confidence yesterday," Lewis said. "For about an hour."
Lewis said Sanu was simply running a route and didn't collide with anyone or get stepped on.
"(Stuff) happens," he said. "It's another weird thing we've had this year, unfortunately."
The Bengals have suffered almost as many season-ending injuries in practice as they have in games. Starting WILL backer Thomas Howard tore his ACL in a Thursday practice before the second game. Running back Bernard Scott tore his ACL in the Oct. 7 game against Miami and left guard Travelle Wharton tore an ACL on the third snap of the preseason opener. Backup right end Jamaal Anderson tore his quad in the second game.
WHIT FINED: Left tackle Andrew Whitworth said before practice that he has heard from the NFL that he has been fined $26,000 for fighting in last Sunday's confrontation with Raiders defensive end Lamarr Houston. He said earlier in the week he's prepared to pay it.
TEZ-MANIA: Bengals rookie WILL backer Vontaze Burfict makes his return home in a game about an hour from where he grew up in Corona, Calif. He figures he's got 30 family and friends coming and that it's his fourth time at the stadium. He went to three games as a fan to see his favorite team, the Broncos, play the Chargers.
WEATHER CHECK: According to the National Weather Service in Wilmington, Ohio, there's a 30 percent chance of showers in San Diego at game time under partly cloudy skies with the temperature at 66 degrees and a wind out of the northwest at about seven miles per hour.