The Arizona Cardinals have everything an NFL team would want in a No. 1 wide receiver with Larry Fitzgerald.
If there is a way of putting a price tag on someone with five Pro Bowls in his first seven seasons while leading the team to the 2009 Super Bowl, the Cardinals took care of that in August when they re-signed Fitzgerald to a deal through 2018 that could be worth $120 million.
So, who is the Cardinals' No. 2 wide receiver? He's entering his second season by way of The Citadel.
Just realize 23-year-old Andre Roberts is not judging himself by the shadow of a league icon; he is shining in his own improbable spotlight.
"My first goal is be a starter," said Roberts, who played at Spring Valley High School in Columbia. "After that, it's being consistent in everything that I do."
To put the duo's perceived gap in Twitter terms: Fitzgerald has nearly 887,000 followers; Roberts' account recently squeaked past the 1,900 mark.
But is Fitzgerald plus Roberts a formula that can help new quarterback
Kevin Kolb move the chains? Despite the Cardinals ranking 10th in team receiving last season, that only helped the squad to a 5-11 mark in an NFC West where 7-9 was enough for the Seahawks to limp into the playoffs.
Having seen the way Roberts clawed his way up the roster, Arizona receivers coach John McNulty is confident his corps is being assembled the right way.
"The thing that we kept telling people here as far as the media and people who would ask, 'Aren't you going to get a veteran?' is, hey, this is how guys are made in this league," McNulty said.
"We drafted (Roberts), we spent a good year with him, kind of bringing him along, and then he took off on his own. And (when prospects are) playing really well, then you play those guys. Otherwise, what are you doing?"
Selected with the 88th pick in the third round in 2010, Roberts is making good on his potential. And words like "pro potential" rarely are used to justify selecting a skill position player from a military college in the Southern Conference.
'Overboard in praise'
"(Head coach) Kevin Higgins down there at The Citadel is a good friend of mine," McNulty said, "and he went overboard in his praise of not only (Roberts') ability but his intangibles and his mental toughness and how he comes from a military family there in South Carolina. At first in camp I was thinking, 'Well, where is it? What happened here?' But if he didn't have that, I don't think he would have fought through it."
By Week 16 last season, Roberts' ability to haul in a 74-yard touchdown catch in a 27-26 victory against the Dallas Cowboys makes for the type of story to someday tell the grandkids. Recalling training camp -- and how dropped passes, bad route running and muffed punt returns showed how lost he was -- makes for stories that force all involved to cringe a year later.
"I don't even know what to tell you about the camp he had last year. It would have broken some guys," McNulty said. "But this guy came back stronger and he's got a lot of confidence and toughness, and it's showing up on the field."
But Stephen Roberts had faith his son would catch on.
Training with Fitzgerald
"The thing last year that was difficult for him at first was he had to learn more than one wide receiver position. In fact, he had to learn three different receiver positions. So it took him a while to get all those positions down pat," said the elder Roberts, a retired Army man who now volunteers as a JROTC instructor in the Darlington County School District. "But it was obvious after he got comfortable in the system that a lot of his thought processes, going through the plays, was less of a concern, and he was able to make more plays."
Due to the lockout, NFL players were left to their own devices to get in shape during the lockout. Fortunately for Roberts, his workout regimen was helped by training alongside Fitzgerald.
Roberts' summer started with workouts in Arizona, continued at Spring Valley when he returned to the Midlands, and then a visit to Minnesota to take notes from the guy ahead of him on the depth chart.
"One thing about him is he works in the summertime like he hasn't made the team yet, like he's an undrafted free agent," said Roberts of his famous teammate.
"If that's one thing you take from him, that's what I take from him. It's working hard every year. Making it seem like you're not even on the team yet. You go into it like that you'll be working as hard as you can every day."
Word of Roberts' enthusiasm made it to his position coach, who can confirm that Roberts is playing with power and confidence.
"Larry said every time he turned around he'd bump into Andre. Andre shadowed the guy," McNulty said. "Larry worked harder than, I'd say, 99 percent of the guys that were locked out in terms of what he organized for the team and what he does on his own. And Andre was with him the whole way. So when he came back to camp this year, it was like a totally different guy."
But if there is one way in which Roberts has remained the same, according to his father, it is his dedication to making the grade.
"The work ethic itself was never anything in question," Stephen Roberts said. "I think one of the reasons why he chose to go to The Citadel was the opportunity to not only get playing time, but to be in a disciplined environment where he can continue to focus on working hard and reach the goals that he has -- not just in football but life in general."
Stephen and Dorothy Roberts -- Mom is also retired but her two decades of a military career continues at Fort Jackson -- will be on hand at University of Phoenix Stadium when the Cardinals' regular season kicks off Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.
Last season, they got to see Andre in action in Charlotte, along with plenty of friends and family and old classmates from The Citadel and Spring Valley.
"I'm still wowed today when I get an opportunity to go to the games or see him on the field, just thinking back to those days in the backyard, or throwing the football when he first started playing -- he wasn't sure that football was the thing that he wanted to do. And now he's made it to the top level of the sport. It still amazes me today just thinking about it," Stephen Roberts said.
Roberts enters the second year of his four-year contract, and limited action in the preseason offers hints that last year's totals of 307 yards receiving and two touchdowns are just the beginning.
He started all four preseason games and averaged 12.2 yards per catch. His speed was on display against San Diego when he took a pitch on a reverse from running back Beanie Wells and ran 34 yards for a touchdown.
Maybe the season will fly by so fast he can put his accounting degree to use to keep pace with his statistics. But for now, Roberts is focused on proving he can provide Kolb with a consistent threat on the opposite side of the field from Fitzgerald.
"I feel like if I do that for 16 games, I can reach any goal that I want," Roberts said.
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