RICHMOND, Va. -- When the Washington Redskins signed former Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Andre Roberts during the offseason, he was initially expected to start along with Pierre Garcon. But then DeSean Jackson fell out of Philadelphia and into the Redskins' lap, diminishing Roberts' projected role with the team.
But now expected to get the first shot at returning kicks and punts, as well as take over the slot receiver position, Roberts is still going to have his chance to make an impact on the team, and he said there were no hard feelings when Jackson was signed.
"No animosity because I understand how the league works and DeSean's a great player, just like Pierre [Garcon] and I think myself are really good players," Roberts said. "Kind of like what we had in Arizona with Michael Floyd and Larry [Fitzgerald], it's kind of like what it is here. With the three of us out there and a couple of other guys in the mix, like Santana [Moss], we're going to be hell to deal with."
Selected by Arizona in the third round (88th overall) of the 2010 draft, Roberts began his career out in the desert as a kick and punt returner. After showing his speed and athleticism on special teams and making the occasional play at receiver, Roberts became a starting wide out for the Cardinals during the 2011 and '12 seasons, before moving to the slot in 2013 in favor of Floyd, who was drafted in the first round (13th overall) in 2012.
Despite having two years of NFL experience as a starter and one in the slot, Roberts said he is not worried about the change of plans and feels good about playing on the inside.
"I feel very comfortable," Roberts said. "I think that's my most natural position. I can play both inside and outside, and I'm sure we'll all move around at some point in this offense, but I feel natural in the slot and I think that's where I'm going to make most of my plays."
As Roberts alluded to, new head coach Jay Gruden's offense is dynamic and will most likely feature Garcon, Jackson, and Roberts in a variety of formations and packages. Not to mention, they have an athletic tight end in Jordan Reed who can run routes and catch the ball well.
So can having too many offensive weapons and one football to go around be a problem? Roberts doesn't think so.
"That's always a good problem," Roberts said, "And when you have guys like that who want the ball, you know they're playmakers and are going to make plays on Sunday. All of us, Alfred [Morris], the receivers, Jordan Reed and [Robert Griffin III] himself want to make plays. And you want guys like that on your team and who want the ball every single play because you know when they do get the ball they're going to be ready to do something with it."
As far as competing for targets, Roberts will have to continue to build chemistry with Griffin and make the most of his opportunities on the practice field and game day. But that bond with his quarterback is something that he said has been growing for quite some time now, and should only get stronger.
"[Our chemistry] is progressing real well," Roberts said. "You know, as a receiver you always want to be your quarterback's favorite target, and I'm sure Pierre [Garcon] and DeSean [Jackson] will be in his ear just like I will be. But I actually met Robert [Griffin III] back in January in Arizona for Baylor's bowl game, so we started building a relationship then, and since I got signed here it just keeps building."
A certain aspect of Roberts' upbringing that he shares with Griffin might also help the two develop a strong connection.
Like Griffin, Roberts grew up in a military family. Growing up with both parents in the service, Roberts was born in Alaska and said he also spent time living in Texas before settling down in South Carolina.
"Yeah definitely, I think that's one of the things that kind of got us to click," Roberts said. "We have some similar things to talk about and we have that similar background being from a military background."
Roberts attended South Carolina's military college, The Citadel, but said he never planned to follow in his parents' footsteps and join the military. For him, he said it was either football or accounting. But he and Redskins fans are both happy he will be putting up numbers on the football field instead of crunching them on a calculator.