Roberts: 'You have to be on your toes at all times'

Posted Aug 30, 2016

Andre Roberts isn't worried about the recent roster moves at wide receiver, he's thinking about his own performance.

When veteran receiver Andre Roberts got out of bed Monday morning, he was competing with five other players in Detroit for roster spots at receiver behind Marvin Jones, Golden Tate and Anquan Boldin.

By practice time that afternoon, his chance of earning one of those spots improved with the team trading Jeremy Kerley to San Francisco and then waiving rookie Quinshad Davis.

But as a six-year veteran, and one who is in his third stop in the league, Roberts knows he has to avoid getting caught up in things out of his control, and simply treat the next two weeks like business as usual.

“I don’t worry about that,” he said after practice Monday. “That’s not in my control. I’ve been doing it for a while. It doesn’t matter if you’re a starter or coming into a new team, there (are) guys coming to take your spot, so you have to be on your toes at all times.”

Roberts, 28, is a few seasons removed from hauling in 64 passes for 759 yards and five touchdowns in Arizona in 2012. His receptions have fallen to 43, 36 and 11 in three subsequent seasons in Arizona and Washington. He played in nine games for the Redskins last season before suffering a knee injury.

TJ Jones, Roberts and undrafted rookies Jace Billingsley and Jay Lee are competing for the final spots at receiver.

“I think we’re all trying to make that extra play, something to stand out and look better toward your coaches,” Roberts said. “They’ve seen us and they pretty much know who we are as players by now, but it's always good to make that big play, big catch, something exciting for coaches to be like, ‘Ooh, look at this.’”

Roberts was the third man into the game behind Dwayne Washington and TJ Jones returning kickoffs last week in Baltimore, and was the second punt returner (behind TJ Jones). He played on 16 snaps on offense, more than TJ Jones (14), Lee (13) and Billingsley (11).

Special teams will play a big factor in deciding the final receiver spots. Roberts returned seven kicks for 231 yards (33.0 average) with a 99-yard touchdown vs. Carolina for the Redskins last season.

All four players are expected to receive extended reps Thursday in Detroit’s final preseason game vs. Buffalo at Ford Field.

Lions head coach Jim Caldwell told a story Monday about former Indianapolis Colts receiver Blair White earning a job via the last preseason game back when Caldwell was coaching there.

“Last preseason game it was really tight whether or not he was going to be kept,” Caldwell said. “He was an old Michigan State guy, but he ends up catching I don’t know how many passes, he’s in double digits.

“We ended up keeping him. He went on to help us win a couple games that year because we had a couple guys hurt and played very, very well down the stretch there. He’s one of those guys I think some of these guys that we have on the field are looking forward to emulating that, taking advantage of the opportunity they have.”

A five-month job interview is reaching its final leg, and Thursday gives players like Roberts one last opportunity to set themselves apart and win a job.