Seth Roberts has high standards, especially for himself. The Raiders receiver doesn’t approve when they aren’t met, even when dips aren’t apparent to the naked eye.
That’s why his minicamp ended in disappointment. The second-year player didn’t make obvious blunders during the three-practice session, but didn’t think he had proper focus during the offseason program’s final act.
“These last two days I wasn’t into it like I should be,” Roberts said after minicamp's end. “My focus was the main part I lacked, but I’m going to take some time and get back into it.”
Roberts achieved success with confidence and a sharp edge that slashed expectation and helped him advance from junior college to West Alabama, from an undrafted free agent to the practice squad to a defined role with an NFL team.
Roberts has thrived without guarantees, moving up ranks with consistent focus, technique and execution.
Roberts doesn’t say much, but he takes pride in being reliable every practice and every game.
He doesn’t take sessions off, even in the offseason program. That’s why last month’s minicamp was deemed unsatisfactory, even with months before games count. Talent must be maximized at all times.
He’s a grinder still trying to prove he belongs, and that will continue during the darkest portion of the NFL calendar. He plans to work out at Cal-Berkeley heading towards training camp in Napa, his first with real job security.
“This year I feel like I took care of my body a lot better,” Roberts said. “Physically, I feel rested. The mental part of the game was a lot easier this offseason because of the continuity we have on offense.
“I can’t wait to work on getting that that touch and feel with the quarterback. It’s a little easier this time because you know what to expect.”
Roberts knows his role and how to thrive in it. He's expected to be the Raiders slot receiver in 2016, a role earned last year and kept with a solid campaign that featured 32 receptions 480 yards, five touchdowns and several clutch catches.
Who could forget the game-winning touchdowns caught against Baltimore and Tennessee? He was a red zone target, clearly trusted by Derek Carr to make big plays even with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree on the pitch.
Big plays didn’t build chemistry with his quarterback. Consistency was the key there.
“I always go back and study last year’s film, one thing I continued to see over and over again is when he was man-to-man, he won his route,” Carr said. “That is huge. And he’s not just winning, he’s creating separation.”
That’s a compliment of the highest order, one Roberts appreciates and hopes to validate by taking advantage of attention paid to higher-profile receivers.
“We don’t number our receivers but when he comes in, he’s the third guy in,” Carr said. “When you have that and the third corner guarding him or a safety coming down guarding him and have that guy consistently winning, it just opens up so many things. … It just takes pressure off of everybody. His role is huge, then you put a guy like (Andre Holmes), knowing the big play ability he has and you put Seth next to him, now safeties and defensive coaches have to make decisions because Seth continues to win on his routes.”