Andre Roberts went on a mini-tour of wide receiver-needy teams after he was cut by Washington last month.
He visited the Detroit Lions, Buffalo Bills and New Orleans Saints, and had a handful of other trips planned when he decided to sign with the Lions last week because of the chance to earn playing time in a now Calvin Johnson-less offense.
“I mean, it’s a good situation,” Roberts said after his first practice as a Lion at last week’s minicamp. “Playing in the NFC North, haven’t done that. Went from the west, came from the east, so making my rounds. No, it’s a good situation. I came in here, met the coaches. They told me what they expect of me so I’m going to try to do what they expect.”
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The Lions are set with Marvin Jones and Golden Tate atop their receiving corps, and TJ Jones and Jeremy Kerley appear to be vying for the No. 3 job.
But Kerley missed some of organized team activities with an undisclosed injury and with Corey Fuller out indefinitely following foot surgery, the door is open for Roberts to earn a roster spot.
“We know what he’s done,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “He does have a background of playing a lot of football for a number of teams. He’s been productive and we anticipate that he’ll get out here and certainly improve every, single day. So now he’s got to learn the system.”
Roberts had three straight seasons (2011-13) with at least 40 catches for the Arizona Cardinals, before signing a free-agent deal with Washington in 2014.
After playing as an outside receiver in Arizona, he was used primarily in the slot in Washington and saw his numbers decline each of the past two seasons. Last year, after missing half of the season with a knee injury, he had 11 catches for 135 yards.
Roberts said the Lions told him they plan to use him as both a slot and outside receiver, and he could compete for the punt return job with Kerley, Jones and Tate.
“They expect me to come in here and work hard and earn a spot, just like any of these other guys working hard every day,” Roberts said. “I’m a little behind in the play aspect, but I’m a quick learner.”