The Ravens learned something about Seth Roberts four years ago. He has a knack for delivering in the clutch.
Playing with the Oakland Raiders in 2015, Roberts scored his first NFL touchdown against Baltimore and it was a game-winner. With the Ravens clinging to a 33-30 lead late in the fourth quarter, Roberts got open on a post pattern and cradled a 12-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Derek Carr.
Oakland defeated the Ravens, 37-33, and it was the beginning of Roberts' penchant for making game-winning plays a s a slot receiver. From 2015 to 2017, Roberts scored 11 touchdowns for Oakland and the Raiders won all 11 of those games.
Now Roberts hopes to carry that playmaking ability from Oakland to Baltimore. After the Raiders traded for Antonio Brown this offseason, Roberts became expendable and was released. The Ravens signed Roberts to a one-year deal in March, hoping he can be a valuable slot receiver in the revamped offense built around quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Roberts' track record as a proven NFL receiver could give him an edge in the Ravens' intense wide receiver competition. At 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, Roberts doesn't overwhelm cornerbacks with his size or his speed. But his ability to get open and make catches has kept him in the NFL for five seasons as an undrafted free agent from West Alabama.
The Ravens have plenty of candidates at wide receiver, but most of them can't match Roberts' NFL resume – 158 career catches for 1,826 yards and 13 touchdowns. But after the Ravens drafted a couple of wide receivers in Marquise "Hollywood" Brown and Miles Boykin, Roberts' place on the roster isn't a guarantee, despite signing as a free agent in early April.
His approach to the wide receiver position battle that will extend into training camp reflects his experience. He isn't worrying about the 13 wide receivers currently on the Ravens' roster. He's only concerned with bringing his best every day.
"First and foremost, I have to worry about Seth Roberts," Roberts said. "I can't control what I can't control. Obviously, being an athlete, you come out and compete every day. If you see a guy make a play, then I want to make a play. But I just try to worry about myself."
When the Ravens contacted Roberts after the Raiders let him go, he said it was an easy decision to join Baltimore. He likes Jackson's athleticism and potential. He also likes the Ravens' talent on both sides of the ball.
"To be real with you, the Ravens were the team that really wanted me," Roberts said. "I wanted to go where I was wanted."
As Roberts learns the Ravens' offense, he is having frequent conversations with David Culley, the team's new Assistant Head Coach/Pass Coordinator/Wide Receivers. Roberts said Culley has made it easier to get the most out of practices.
"He harps on focus and concentration," Roberts said. "He's coached some of the best for over 30 years – Terrell Owens, DeSean Jackson. I guy with his wisdom, you listen to. I'm just trying to feed off that. I'm coming out here every day, trying to master the offense. It's been going pretty good so far."
Nothing has come easily for Roberts in the NFL, so battling for a spot and playing time is nothing new. He was not invited to the NFL Combine after leaving West Alabama, and as an undrafted free agent, he had to fight for a place on the Raiders' practice squad before being promoted to their 53-man roster.
At age 28, Roberts knows this is a pivotal year in his career. He believes both the Ravens and fans will like what he brings to the table – a wide receiver who doesn't shy away from tough catches are big moments.
"I'm gritty,'' Roberts said. "I don't care what day the game is – Sunday, Monday, Thursday, Saturday. It doesn't matter. I'm going to try to make every play. My whole mindset is to make the most of my opportunity."
Check out the action from the three days of practices.