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Monday, April 21, 2014
Andre Roberts: 'I can go get everything'

By John Keim

One ball required him to reach back and to the left, so that's what Andre Roberts did to make the catch. Another time he leapt along the sidelines and tapped his feet down while holding onto the ball, just as a defender rammed into him.

The new Washington Redskins receiver didn't catch as many passes as he would have liked last season. But he did show good hands when the ball came his way. Roberts dropped three passes in 2013, according to ESPN Stats & Information. His drop percentage was 3.9; the league average was 4.3 percent.

Roberts
By comparison, Pierre Garcon (3.4) and DeSean Jackson (3.7) ranked ahead of Roberts. But last year’s slot receiver, Santana Moss, had a drop percentage of 8.9.

What Roberts showed, however, was a wider catch radius -- something Garcon has as well. Perhaps the biggest one on the team belongs to tight end Jordan Reed. But this should give quarterback Robert Griffin III more ability to complete passes if he's a little off. A quarterback can make receivers look great; but a receiver needs to chip in to help the quarterback, and that means sometimes grabbing passes that aren't perfect.

“I've had a knack with that,” Roberts said. “My arms are longer than what most people think, but I do have a wider catch radius. I can catch any ball from low to high, to spinning to diving and over the top. I can better with that. I definitely have that catch radius so I can go get everything.

“I don't shy away from the ball. Anytime the ball is in the air I try to get it. I don’t care where it’s at. I don’t care if I’m between the linebackers and safeties or outside competing with the corner.”

Roberts also was good at creating separation at the top of his routes, almost the way a basketball player does when going into a defender and then popping out. It made him effective on comebacks and hitches. His blocking was OK -- coach Jay Gruden said at the owners meetings last month that “he’s blocked safeties from time to time; not very physically, but he’s blocking.”

But Roberts said he considers himself a physical player.

“I play bigger than I am,” he said. “They think I’m a slot guy, but I can play inside and outside. I fight for the ball. I’m a tough guy. If you don’t think so, just watch me on the field.”

Perhaps that stems from playing at The Citadel, then entering the NFL as a third-round draft choice by Arizona. He may even be more that way in Washington just to make sure he gets the kind of chances he anticipated when he signed here -- and before Jackson did.

Gruden said they liked Roberts because he could run routes inside or outside. That gives Washington three top receivers who can run routes from a variety of spots.

“Very versatile. You can tell he’s a smart player because he lines up everywhere. He’s run every type of route,” Gruden said of Roberts.
Whatever his role, Roberts knows he'll bring the same mentality.

“I’m not scared to go across the middle and I’m not scared to hit anybody,” Roberts said. “It’s a mentality you have to have as a receiver and being able to play that role going across the middle and playing inside where the bigger bodies are. You will get hit anyway so you might as well catch the ball. It sounds easy to say, but it’s a little harder to do it on the field. That’s the way I try to see it.”