- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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Andre Roberts admitted it was frustrating, his reduced role leading to fewer opportunities. So he left Arizona seeking more chances, which the Redskins would give him. And then the Redskins signed DeSean Jackson, which would cut into Roberts' opportunities.
But Roberts said the situations aren’t comparable, partly because of one distinct difference.
“In Arizona it was a new staff and they didn’t know me,” Roberts said. “The Redskins brought me here because they want me to make plays on special teams and offense. So it’s a different dynamic.”
Besides, he knows that having three receivers such as Roberts, Pierre Garcon and Jackson means the Redskins will result in a more pass-centered offense. Redskins first-year coach Jay Gruden was knocked in Cincinnati for abandoning the run at times. He has greater receiver depth in Washington than he did in Cincinnati, including tight end Jordan Reed.
“We’ll do a lot of three-receiver stuff,” Roberts said. “We can run well out of the three-receiver sets. Obviously you have to do the two tight end and fullback out there. You have to have a running game and we have a great back in Alfred [Morris]. We’ll definitely do both, but I think our best personnel will be three receivers and one tight end.”
Roberts’ offensive snaps went from 837 in 2012 to 605 last year under first-year coach Bruce Arians (the Cards drafted Michael Floyd in 2012 and he became the starter opposite Larry Fitzgerald). While perhaps he’ll play more, the Redskins do have more options than what he played with in Arizona, with Reed another strong target for quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Earlier this offseason, Gruden said they plan to use Roberts in multiple roles because he can play both the slot and outside.
“Very versatile. You can tell he’s a smart player because he lines up everywhere. He runs every type of route,” Gruden said of Roberts.
In 2012, Roberts was targeted 114 times (with 64 receptions) compared to 76 and 43, respectively, a year ago. But, still, Roberts anticipates a bigger role. Part of that includes special teams where he’s working as a returner for both punts and kickoffs. He hasn’t handled those jobs full time since 2010, but says it’s something that he wants in Washington. In 2010, Roberts averaged 7.5 yards on 35 punt returns and 23.3 yards on 14 kick returns. He returned five punts and two kickoffs combined in the next three seasons.
“After my first year I started to get used to it and I started my second year so they don’t want the starters doing it too much,” he said. “I never had the opportunity to get in there and do it like I wanted to. Being here and having the opportunity is big and I would love to do it.”
Roberts still has belief in what he can do. Last season he had only three pass plays for 20 yards or more, according to ESPN Stats & Information; he had 10 such plays in 2012. That’s what he wants to do here – not just from scrimmage. He’ll have to improve on his yards after the catch average of the past two years (3.52 in 2012; 2.53 last year).
“I’m one of those players when he gets the ball in his hands he can make a big play,” Roberts said. “That’s what I want to bring to this team as well, not just as a receiver but on special teams.”