Bills leaning on Andre Roberts dynamic return skills once again

Sports

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Andre Roberts (18) returns a punt during the first half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Bills Pro Bowl returner Andre Roberts is about to start his eleventh season in the NFL. To some, he might sound old but Roberts won’t use that word.

“I think I’m very young, I think I can do this for a lot longer so I don’t know if my birth certificate was wrong but I definitely don’t feel my age from what you know everybody thinks. My age doesn’t matter,” Roberts laughed.

While some players start to decline as they get older, Roberts, 32, has done the opposite. He still manages to perform at a high level each season, something Bills special teams coordinator Heath Farwell is amazed by.

“He still has the talent, he still has the speed he always had but I think what separates himself is his understanding of the game and understanding how to set up returns and how to set up his blockers. His understanding of to feel those gunners in front of him whether he’s back there returning and peeking down at the gunners to see how close they are and when he needs to fair catch, it’s something I’ve never seen before,” Farwell said on a zoom call with reporters.

“Hopefully we can get Andre even more loose than he was last season and hopefully score.”

That’s the next thing to check off the list for 2020, find the end zone.

Roberts made the Pro Bowl last season for the second time in his career after finishing fourth in the league in average kickoff return yardage (26.6 and 664 yards total).

“Andre is a talented returner, is an elite returner, Pro Bowl returner that he is dynamic back there where he’s feared by other teams that they don’t want to kick him the ball so if they do, if we’re executing our techniques you know blocking for him you know I think anytime he gets the ball in his hands we got a chance to score,” Farwell explained.

With a now crowded wide receiver room and guys fighting for those last few spots, Roberts’ role as a return specialist makes him an all but guaranteed lock even though he wants to be more than just a force on special teams.

“My role is exactly the same and my idea of it is exactly the same. I come in every year feeling the same way. Obviously I’m the returner and I want to be the best in the league at that but at the same time I want to carve out a role in the offense. They want me to know every position so if I do go in there I can step up and make a play. Like I said I know my role as a returner but I fight every single day at the receiver position to make my mark,” Roberts said on a zoom call with reporters.

Roberts had three catches for 20 yards and only played ten percent of the offensive snaps in 2019.

This is also the first time in years Roberts will be with a team for consecutive seasons as he is entering the final year on his two-year deal with the Bills. Before signing with Buffalo, Roberts spent a year with the Jets, Falcons, Lions, two years with Washington and the first three years of his career with Arizona.

Right away in week one, he’ll get a chance to face his former team as the Bills host the Jets on September 13th.

“The fire is definitely still there, I know I get a chance to play them again twice this year and as long as I’m playing for the Buffalo Bills I have that chance to play them twice so the fire still burns inside me regardless of who we’re playing but I definitely have that extra chip when I’m playing the Jets,” Roberts said.

“Always burns, never leaves.”

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