Versatile Lions rookie Michael Roberts making his presence felt

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
The Lions' Michael Roberts makes a reception against the Ravens.

Allen Park – Not unlike second-round pick Teez Tabor, Detroit Lions rookie tight end Michael Roberts has had trouble getting consistent playing time this season, primarily because the veteran depth in front of him has stayed healthy.

Eric Ebron and Darren Fells haven’t missed a game, leaving Roberts to average a little more than 13 snaps per game, which he’s primarily served as a blocker.

But as the season has progressed, Roberts’ blocks have been more and more noticeable. Despite being on the field only nine plays against Tampa Bay last Sunday, he helped pave the way on Theo Riddick’s 18-yard touchdown run in the second half by sealing a defender out of the back’s lane.

“Honestly, it’s probably 80 percent of what I do in games, so I take a lot of pride in it,” Roberts said. “I think my technique is much more consistent. Still a lot of work to be done, on my part with little details, hat placement, those things. It’s never been an issue with effort. I give it everything I got, just got to lock in on that technique.”

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As a senior at Toledo last season, Roberts caught 45 passes and 16 touchdowns. He’s only been targeted six times during his first season with the Lions, but that role has picked up in recent weeks, with three receptions the past two games.

“He does a little bit of everything,” quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “He’s done a nice job with the point of attack on runs, the backside of runs, doing a nice job in the pass game here and there, made a great catch in the Baltimore game, went up and got one. He’s got ability.

“He’s a young player and stepping in and playing tight end in this league is tough,” Stafford said. “You see that year in and year out. You’ve got first-round picks that come in and just have to kind of figure it out and find their way through, so he’s done a nice job for us.”