Wide receiver Andre Roberts scores the game-winning touchdown against Seattle Sunday.
Even while many wondered if Andre Roberts would come around, the Cardinals ' coaching staff insisted he was better than was given credit.
The wide receiver stepped into the forefront last week when he was on the scoring end of the game-winning touchdown pass by Kevin Kolb, completing a five-reception day (for 54 yards) that also included a 15-yard end-around run.
While Roberts hasn't always popped statistically, coach Ken Whisenhunt said the staff has seen plenty from Roberts to impress them. From the outside there was an assumption rookie Michael Floyd would jump right into the lineup, but not with what the Cards saw from Roberts.
"We saw the way he worked, the progress he was making," Whisenhunt said. "Last year there were a lot of times when he won on a route and whether the read didn't take (the QB) there or whatever happened, he didn't get the ball. You recognize those things. When you do something like he does, being unselfish, working in the run game, you get a lot of respect for that."
Roberts finished last season with 38 receptions over the final nine games after a painfully slow start. He's been frustrated himself, with his ups and downs as a rookie. But he has listened closely to Pro Bowl receiver Larry Fitzgerald – attending Fitz's Minnesota camp the past couple of offseasons – and worked to put himself in a better position.
And he knows what the coaches have been thinking.
"(The coaches) definitely had my back the whole way," Roberts said. "Some things going on in our offense … I haven't gotten the opportunities that usually come. I have stayed even-keeled on things like that, tried to stay positive."
Fitzgerald raves about Roberts' work ethic. Whisenhunt noted Roberts' ability to block in the run game, something he has an appreciation for after coaching receiver Hines Ward in Pittsburgh.
"(Hines) sets the standard and I see a lot of that in Andre," Whisenhunt said. "That's pretty high praise for a young guy like Andre, but I think it's pretty accurate."
Roberts said he still wants to make "more plays, bigger plays," but believes that can happen.
"I feel I know what I am capable of," Roberts said. "Once I am given the opportunity, I have proven what I can do."
IN A SNAP
While the Cardinals have a long snapper that has never missed a game, everyone around the league watched on Monday night when the Raiders lost long snapper Jon Condo to a head injury, forcing Travis Goethel to long snap for the first time to disastrous results.
A couple of Goethel's snaps rolled back to the punter, and a third punt was blocked when the Raiders didn't protect correctly.
"You don't know who their backup is, but you feel bad for him," said Mike Leach, the Cards' aforementioned long snapper. "The cards were stacked against him."
Special teams coach Kevin Spencer said center Lyle Sendlein has practiced the short snaps every Thursday since the coaching staff arrived in 2007. Spencer said he talked to tight end Jeff King about long snapping, and, along similar lines, wide receiver Early Doucet has worked a little as a backup holder to punter Dave Zastudil since injured quarterback John Skelton is the regular backup holder.
"You always have to plan for disaster," Spencer said.
Spencer said he's always looking for guys who can throw the football, since long snapping is throwing the football – just with your head down and between your legs. It's not easy. Spencer opines that linebacker Stewart Bradley, who can throw well, might be a long-snapping candidate "in a pinch."
"When you only have 46 (active players) on game days, you have to have enough guys to get through," Spencer said.
PETERSON ADDED TO INJURY LIST
While Skelton missed practice for a second straight day, the Cards' growing injury list – it hit 15 total Thursday – had cornerback Patrick Peterson on it as limited with a groin injury. Peterson is one of four defensive backs who were limited Thursday, including safeties Adrian Wilson (ankle), Rashad Johnson (thigh) and cornerback Jamell Fleming (shoulder). Linebacker O'Brien Schofield (knee) also remains limited.
Patriots' starting offensive linemen Dan Connolly (head) and Sebastian Vollmer (back) also were among the limited Thursday.