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Don't Forget About Andre Roberts

Wide receiver can get lost in the shuffle, but could benefit in Arians' system


Wide receiver Andre Roberts heads upfield after a catch in practice.

He's quiet and soft-spoken, more smiles than frowns.

When he talks, it's about team, about winning championships, about everyone else. There's a good chance -- a very good chance -- he'll slip by the herd of cameras without being noticed, the way he can slice through a secondary whose eyes are focused on another Cardinals' receiver.

Andre Roberts doesn't have the type of brash, boasting persona that would typify a football player -- a wide receiver, nonetheless. He does, however, have the game.

Playing alongside a future Hall of Famer and the chic pick for breakout player of the year, it's easy to gloss over Roberts. But don't forget about him this season or he'll blow right by you.

"I expect Andre to have a huge year," quarterback Carson Palmer said. "He's smart. He understands the offense. He's playing every position.

He catches the ball extremely well. He uses his hands well. He's quick. He has it all.

"There's not anything that's lacking in his game. (He has) extremely long arms. You don't notice how long his arms are until you throw a ball a little bit too high and you think you overthrew it and all of a sudden his arms keep going and he gets up there and gets it."

With all the attention paid to Larry Fitzgerald and his potential 1,000-yard season with Palmer at quarterback, and all the buildup around Michael Floyd's sophomore season, it's easy to forget that Roberts played well last year. He led the team with five touchdown receptions and his 759 yards were just 39 less than Fitzgerald's.

If there was anyone who will transition into Bruce Arians' new offense seamlessly, it's Roberts. He had to learn a variety of positions last season and when he wasn't lining up as the No. 2 receiver across from Fitzgerald, he played in the slot.

"Andre knows all the positions," Fitzgerald said. "He can play X, Y, Z, F. He's a very cerebral football player. He's got to continue to get better on all facets of his game. You saw bursts of it last year."

Palmer expects to see more of it this year, as does Roberts.

The fourth-year receiver believes he'll have "big" years every year. His numbers increased by about 200 yards in his first three seasons as he proved he was a consistent secondary option. Roberts' yards-per-catch average has remained steady throughout his career, starting at 12.8 his rookie season in 2010, then 11.5 in 2011 and 11.9 in 2012. He's started every game he's played in the last two seasons.

Roberts understands where he fits this year, as he battles Floyd for the No. 2 receiver. But when Fitzgerald and Floyd, two bigger, stronger receivers, are on the outside, Roberts will use his speed from the slot. But under Arians, Roberts said everyone's interchangeable.

"I think we have the receivers on our team where we all complement each other," Roberts said.

Arians sees Roberts, Floyd and tight end Rob Housler drawing attention away from Fitzgerald, forcing teams to play the All-Pro one-on-one. Palmer, however, sees Fitzgerald helping Roberts.

"It makes it hard to put all your attention on Larry," Palmer said. "You have to worry about him but it's also good for Andre because you got to worry about Larry, and you got to put some extra attention on Larry. The fine line is, do you double him or do you not?

"Unfortunately for Larry, there's going to be some situations where he's going to be doubled. Fortunately for Andre, there's going to be some situations where Larry's doubled. It's good for everybody."

Roberts stood in front of his locker last week at University of Phoenix Stadium with a broad smile on his face. He talked about his 18-day trip traveling the world with Fitzgerald, and all the crazy things Fitzgerald made him do, like go lava boarding and scuba diving.

When the lights from the cameras turned off and the reporters moved on to another story, Roberts was back in his comfort zone. He'd rather people talk about Fitzgerald or Floyd or anyone else.

"I'm fine with that," Roberts said. "We know all us receivers were going to complement each other. For Larry to get open, Mike and I have to do our job. And for me and Mike to get our catches, Larry has to do his job, as well.

"We all understand we complement each other and we can all have big years at the same time."

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