By: Barry Barnes, Founder
The dream of catching a game-winning touchdown has been engraved in the hearts and minds of every pass catcher in the NFL. After spending a season on the Raiders practice squad as a potential project, wide receiver Seth Roberts was finally able to exercise his childhood fantasy, while paying dividends for the Silver and Black in Week 2 against the Baltimore Ravens.
Facing first-and-10 on the Ravens’ 12 yard line with :30 seconds remaining in regulation, Raiders second-year signal caller Derek Carr rifled a pass in the middle of the field to Roberts for the go-ahead winning touchdown.
Carr was thrilled about the win, and for Roberts.
“I can’t even say how happy I am for him (Roberts),” said Carr. “I told him in there I’m so proud for you, you deserve it. Talk about a guy that the first day we threw routes on there, it didn’t look too pretty. Back in rookie minicamp days and just to watch him work, watch him get better at his craft, to make the team after being on practice squad and to make the game winning catch and he deserves all the credit.
“I had to throw it low and tried to protect him and he did a great of job of going down and making that catch. I’m so happy for him.”
Roberts disciplined himself to prepare for this moment in the midst of the wide receiver talent on the roster.
“He’s (Roberts) worked hard. He’s worked hard,” said Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio. “The wide receiver group because we brought in, the guys that were here before, there was a lot of competition for those spots and playing time and what not. He’s earned his way. Great for him, great for us to see him do real well there.”
Last year, Roberts came fresh out of West Alabama and onto the NFL Regional Combine scene at the Tampa-held sessions. He wasn’t selected to attend to the celebrated NFL Super Regional Combine, a re-creation of the NFL National Scouting Combine for lesser known athletes, but the Raiders sought him out and welcomed him to camp.
Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie stated during the 2015 NFL Super Regional Combine he plans to rebuild this organization by “the old school way of doing things” with hungry overlooked talent.
Roberts is just the beginning.
“It feels awesome, man. I just want to thank the Raiders organization,” said Roberts. “We did it for us, for our organization, the team, the Raiders. We haven’t had a win in a long time so it feels good to have our coaches with smiles on their faces and leaving happy.”
However, Roberts’ heroics could have been overshadowed as fellow RC journeyman Ravens safety Will Hill almost stole the show for Baltimore.
The play before Roberts’ touchdown, Hill picked off Carr’s pass with under :40 left in the contest, but he was flagged for holding. Hill was having a monster game finishing with four tackles, including a critical interception in the fourth quarter with 4:54 remaining in the game, which helped the Ravens gain their first lead of the matchup at 33-30 on a field goal by kicker Justin Tucker with 2:12 left.
Nevertheless, Roberts delivered the final blow, sealed Jack Del Rio’s first victory as the Raiders head coach, and put the platform of the RC in the spotlight.
In addition to other teams’ success were Pittsburgh Steelers starting cornerback Antwon Blake and Atlanta Falcons defenders in linebacker Joplo Bartu and defensive back Robenson Therezie.
Blake contributed to the pounding of the San Francisco 49ers with seven tackles, while Bartu totaled two tackles and Therezie finished with one stop in their comeback win over the New York Giants.
In that affair against the Falcons, tight end Jerome Cunningham had one reception for 3 yards.
Despite falling short to the Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans running back Jonathan Grimes turned in a vigorous effort for his team.
The three-year veteran back from William and Mary, who attended the NFL Regional Combine in 2012, shared the team lead in receptions with 6 (Cecil Shorts) for 40 yards and carried the ball twice for seven yards.
As of Sept. 18, there are 65 players from the NFL Regional Combine in the league. 37 on active rosters, 21 on practice squads and seven on injured reserve.
The Shield is taking notice.
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