As the Bengals get set to begin their stretch run for the second straight year in San Diego, there are a number of familiar themes that have carried over. One of the most notable is which receiver after A.J. Green will break through.

At the beginning of the season, many thought it would be Mohamed Sanu, but he has struggled a bit. After October it appeared as if it was Marvin Jones, but he has cooled off.

One will have to step up over the final five regular-season games as the Bengals hope to maintain their two-game lead in the division and make the playoffs three straight seasons for the first time in franchise history.

“I think all the receivers behind A.J., they’ve all shown flashes of being very good. It’s just we have a lot of guys that are kind of in that mode where a different guy can help us each week, that it might not be the same guy each week,” offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said.

Green had a run of five straight 100-yard games that ended two weeks ago against Cleveland, but what helped make the offense productive and running efficiently during the October stretch was that the other receivers were contributing.

After a three-game October stretch that saw him catch 15 passes for 250 yards and six touchdowns, including a franchise-record four in the 49-9 Week 8 win over the Jets, Jones has just six receptions for 77 yards and no touchdowns the past three games. Jones did have a 50-yard touchdown against the Dolphins, but that was nullified due to a holding penalty.

Jones is tied with Giovani Bernard in touchdowns with seven while his receiving yardage (446) and yards per catch (14.9) is second. When asked if he noticed if teams are playing him differently, Jones said there has been a slight difference but nothing major.

It was during last year’s trip to San Diego that Jones made his first start. He had two catches for 20 yards in that game. After seeing only 50 offensive snaps in his first six games and missing a three-game stretch in November due to a knee injury, Jones was in for 67 of 78 offensive plays against the Chargers. In the final four regular-season games after San Diego, he was in for all but 27 of the Bengals’ 259 snaps.

It wasn’t until the final two games of last season though where Jones was really able to feel comfortable. His 10 catches for 110 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers and Ravens, along with three receptions for 34 yards in the playoff loss to Houston helped serve as a springboard to this season.

“My overall feel for the game is a lot better now. When you add games and experience it is different,” Jones said.

Sanu, who missed last year’s stretch run due to a foot injury, comes off the bye week with a little more confidence. He is third on the team in receptions with 36 but didn’t get his first touchdown of this season until the Cleveland game. Sanu had four touchdowns last season with all of them being in the red zone.

“I thought I would have,” said Sanu when asked if he thought he would have a bigger impact this season. “Things don’t always play out as you see it. You have to do what you can when you get the opportunities.”