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WR Roberts in middle of rich Redskins group

The SportsXchange

ASHBURN, Va. -- When the Redskins gave Andre Roberts a four-year, $16 million deal -- with $8 million guaranteed -- the free agent was expected to replace the departed Josh Morgan as the No. 2 receiver opposite record-breaker Pierre Garcon.

But when 2013 Pro Bowl pick DeSean Jackson unexpectedly became available after being cut by Philadelphia in April, Washington pounced, offering $16 million guaranteed over the next two seasons. Suddenly, Roberts, who was supplanted by Michael Floyd after two years as the Arizona Cardinals' starter opposite Larry Fitzgerald last season, was right back where he started -- the first guy off the bench.

Roberts was disappointed, but he still figures to see plenty of action with Morgan gone, the ever-promising Leonard Hankerson still recovering from major knee surgery in December and former starter Santana Moss having turned 35.

"He might be flying under the radar for you guys, but he's not flying under the radar for us," said quarterback Robert Griffin III. "He's been very effective out here, explosive, making tough, hard catches for us, catches that we need and plays that we're going to need him to make. He wants the ball in his hands. He feels like he can make plays with the ball in hands and I can't wait to see it."

Cornerback DeAngelo Hall has seen plenty from the 5-foot-11, 192-pound Roberts already.

"It's gonna be tough on that third corner to try (stay) with him," Hall said. "He's gonna have some fun out there going against No. 3 corners and No. 4 corners when we bring Santana in there. You can't coach speed and that kid can fly."

There is healthy competition at that spot and even Tulane rookie fifth-round pick Ryan Grant opened some eyes.

Grant made a nice low grab on a slant from backup quarterback Kirk Cousins while being covered by fellow draft choice Bashaud Breeland during the final practice of minicamp, and secured a similar catch on a throw from Griffin. To further his own cause, Grant showed surprising pop during special teams drills, earning plaudits from the coaching staff repeatedly during minicamp.

"He plays like a 10-year veteran already," Gruden said of the 6-foot, 197-pound Grant. "He's very smooth. He understands route concepts. He understand depths and how important they are and how to set people up. (He gets) in and out of breaks effortlessly. The ability to be able move him around outside and inside I think is a huge benefit for us and him. He's going to be a very good football player."

Grant isn't a burner -- he has 4.6 speed in the 40 -- but his hands are exceptional based on early workouts. Grant is counting on those mitts to keep him around, and in the middle of the crowded wide receiver group.

"God blessed me with some great hands," he said in May. "I think I was born with that talent. But I'm a hard worker and I try to get better by the day."
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