ALAMEDA – The Raiders don’t dwell much on the past. That’s head coach Jack Del Rio’s mantra, one steadfastly observed throughout the 2015 season.
Seth Roberts knew he was within the 24-hour rule, so he scrolled back on his iPad and watched the play again. And again. And a few more times after that.
Reliving the moment where his touchdown beat the host Tennessee Titans on Sunday after was worth a couple replays. How many times did he watch it back?
“On my ipad? On the plane?” Roberts said. “Only four or five times.”
No need to wear down the battery. After all, Roberts has done that before. He beat the Baltimore Ravens in Week 2 with a last-second touchdown reception, the first big play of his young career. He has grown as a receiver since then, but has always known to take success in stride and never let it get in the way of hard work.
That’s the only reason Roberts has these opportunities. He wasn’t given anything as a young player, without pedigree to smooth his career path.
“I was a smaller guy, skinny and not as fast back in high school,” Roberts said. “I really had to train and work hard to get where I am.”
Roberts has been proving himself since he was a teenager without dominant athletic traits. That’s why he had to earn promotions from McClay High in Tallahassee, Fla., to Pearl River Community College in Hattiesburgh, Miss., to West Alabama University.
Roberts wasn’t drafted, but earned a spot on last year’s practice squad and this year’s 53-man roster under new head coach Jack Del Rio.
“He’s an example of a guy that attempts to do everything right,” Del Rio said. “Nobody’s perfect, but he really tries every day to apply himself, to be as good as he can be. He comes out and competes.
“Regardless of the odds coming into camp, pretty deep group, he never worried about that. He just went to work every day with whatever reps he got and earned his way to getting more reps and here he is playing a big role for us. It’s great to see when guys like Seth take full advantage of their opportunity.”
Roberts moved into the slot, and started producing early on this season. He had two touchdowns in his first three games, including the game-winner against Baltimore. He has 21 receptions for 352 yards and four touchdowns. His best effort came Sunday, with a career-high six receptions for 113 yards and two touchdowns.
That doesn’t mean his ascent was perfectly steady.
“There is no magic trick or anything,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “The guy… I tell this story all the time, man. We went out on the practice field and, the first time we ever threw together, it was us as rookies. We remember sitting there afterward, thinking it wasn’t probably as pretty as he would have liked. You think back from that moment to where he’s at to catching two game-winners now. The only way you get there is by hard work and that’s what he’s done.”
That’s what made Sunday’s game so gratifying. His best game came with a group of 18 family members and friends in attendance. When he emerged from the locker room after that well-timed performance, his entourage was waiting.
“There were a bunch of people were waiting at the end of the tunnel and they all had their arms in the air,” Roberts said. “It was the first time (watching me play live in the NFL). It was awesome.”
Roberts has moved on, focused on perfecting the next stage of his development. There’s confidence derived from reaching new milestones.
“It’s there in the back of my head,” Roberts said. “I just stay to myself and the inner voice in my head tells me to keep going strong.”