Gruden and Whisenhunt high on Andre Roberts

Josh Wilson, Andre Roberts

Andre Roberts, here spinning away from Josh Wilson in a 2011 game, has versatility that made him attractive to the Redskins. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

ORLANDO – With the signing of free agent Andre Roberts two weeks ago, the Washington Redskins believe that they have added a versatile playmaker to a receiving unit badly in need of weapons.

The Redskins have Pierre Garcon, who last season led the NFL with 113 catches. But after Garcon, Washington lacked consistent options.

Coach Jay Gruden believes that Roberts can help solve that problem, however. And, the coach sees him as a potential weapon on special teams.

“I think Andre is an exciting player because he can play inside and outside and he can give you a lot of things,” Gruden said on Monday. “He hasn’t been asked to return a lot of punts because they have Patrick Peterson and the Honey Badger. But we might ask him to get back there and return some punts also. Very versatile guy, and I’m expecting big things from him.”

Washington needs both a threat at slot receiver, and at the outside position opposite Garcon. Roberts has said since signing with the Redskins that he expects to see time at both spots.

Tennessee Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt coached Roberts with the Arizona Cardinals, and drafted him in the third round out of The Citadel in 2010. Speaking at the AFC coaches breakfast Tuesday morning, Whisenhunt gave a brief scouting report on the fifth-year pro.

“He’s a great, great young player,” Whisenhunt said. “Very tough competitor. I thought he was a good leader and a good player for me when I was there. I have a lot of respect for what he’s done, and I’m glad he’s getting an opportunity in Washington.”

Further breaking down Roberts’s game, Whisenhunt said, “The thing I liked the best about Andre was his flexibility. He can play the slot, he can play outside. He can win outside. He made himself into a tough football player. There were some things he went through early in his career as a football player that he had to fight through and that made him a better player – injuries and getting back on the field. And now he’s become a great pro. He works hard and understands what he has to do to be out there every day. But the thing that impresses me, is you always have respect with those guys when they come in and blocking. You see him block linebackers, and block big safeties. He does a great job in the slot, understanding those routes. He can think quickly on his feet. He’s a versatile receiver who can fill a lot of roles.”

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