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Time For Roberts

Posted Dec 8, 2011

Hundred-yard game highlights groove found for second-year receiver

Wide receiver Andre Roberts scoots upfield after a reception against Dallas last weekend.

Andre Roberts let out a small chuckle.

The second-year wide receiver could see the parallel from his rookie season to this one, a symmetry in which he got deep into the season before making an impact.

“Hopefully, next year it doesn’t take half the season, three quarters of the season to make some plays,” Roberts said.

Roberts is coming off the second 100-yard game of his career – 111, to be exact, on six receptions, including a crucial 16-yarder that set up the game-winning screen pass one snap later. Since being shut out in Baltimore Oct. 30, Roberts has 20 catches for 286 yards in the past five games.

And while he has filled other key roles this season – most notably as an edge blocker on run plays – there is little doubt Roberts wants to be more involved on the receiving end.

“The beginning of the year was tough, because I was in every play and I wasn’t getting the ball like I wanted to,” Roberts said. “Guys were telling me, coaches were telling me, ‘Keep your head in it and it will come.’ ”

Waiting hasn’t been easy, not when everyone was watching to see what Roberts would do as the Cards’ No. 2.

The Cards knew what they wanted from the “z” receiver: An ability to not only catch but block, as the primary guy facing down an eighth defender in the box. He wasn’t a prototypical No. 2 across from Larry Fitzgerald, however, and that drew attention.

“Everyone would love to have everyone run 4.2 speed,” offensive coordinator Mike Miller said. “But some things come into play. Can he catch? In our offense, you have to be able to be physical for four quarters against the strong safety. I think it’s all in front of Andre. You can see continually his role expanding.”

The Cardinals never really were seeking another receiver. They did look into bringing in free agent Braylon Edwards once Edwards’ price came down – the Cards actually offered more money than what Edwards ended up signing for in San Francisco – but the thought process always was that former third-round picks Roberts and Early Doucet would fill the bill once Steve Breaston left as a free agent.

The argument of adding a speedy option across from Larry Fitzgerald has been suggested, although the Cards never really used Breaston in that manner consistently and never worried about it when Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin were the top two wideouts.

Roberts has enough speed – Miller thinks he is underestimated -- and it worked well enough on his 40-yard catch against Dallas when Fitzgerald ducked inside deep downfield and Roberts beat cornerback Terence Newman to get open.

“Andre does a great job with his assignments,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “He had a good preseason. It’s just sometimes the ball doesn’t find you. Now it has.”

The Cardinals’ production in the passing game has been sporadic this season, thanks to Kolb’s injuries and the ups and downs of both Kolb and John Skelton. If Fitzgerald doesn’t get the ball as much as he’d like, Roberts probably isn’t either.

The game against the Cowboys was a step forward, however.  

“I don’t know if it is necessarily ‘there’ now, not yet,” Roberts said. “But I am starting to think our offense is starting to come along. There’s a possibility it is coming.”

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