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Roosevelt rolling

Posted Aug 9, 2011

He might not be the guy making all the highlight reel catches in practice at Bills training camp, but he’s also not the one dropping even the occasional pass. Second-year receiver Naaman Roosevelt quietly goes about his business every day. What that approach has done is make him arguably the most consistent receiver in what is a very talented corps since camp began.

Through nine practices days and a countless number of reps Roosevelt does not have a dropped pass. And consistency is what appeals to head coach Chan Gailey the most when it comes to his wideouts. That’s why when asked about the U.B. product, the normally stoic and give-it-to-you-straight Gailey was almost gushing.

“He is a great young player. He really is a great young player,” said Gailey smiling. “God didn’t give him a lot of speed. God didn’t give him a lot of size, but I tell you what he makes the most of what he’s got. He’s a great young player. I’m excited to see what he does in the games this year. He did great when we put him in there last year.”

Roosevelt began his rookie season on Buffalo’s practice squad after signing as an undrafted free agent in the spring. After Roscoe Parrish and Lee Evans were lost to injury last season, Roosevelt was called up from the practice squad and appeared in six games. The last three weeks of the 2010 campaign, Roosevelt saw more time on offense and posted nine receptions for 139 yards.

More importantly he established an on field rapport with starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

“Naaman is a lot like me,” said Fitzpatrick. “He’s going to maximize his potential with what he’s been given.  It’s not like he’s not an athlete because he is.  He’s just not going to go out there and play as a 4.3 (speed guy).  He’s had a great camp.  He’s such a solid receiver.” 

Though a shortened offseason didn’t help any of the players in preparation for 2011, Roosevelt takes comfort in his familiarity with the offensive scheme from his exposure to it last year.

“I just feel better in the offense with it being my second year coming around and understanding what goes on in training camp and what people expect out of you,” he said. “I feel a lot better not thinking so much like out there last year. I’m just out here playing football and playing free.”

What has been an adjustment is getting used to the two new quarterbacks on the roster in Tyler Thigpen and Brad Smith. Roosevelt gets most of his reps with the second unit with Lee Evans, Stevie Johnson, Roscoe Parrish and David Nelson ahead of him on the depth chart. As a result his reps have come mostly with Thigpen and Smith. Every NFL quarterback’s delivery is a bit different, but as he does with everything Roosevelt keeps it simple.

“Defintely it’s a lot different from Fitz to Tyler to Brad, but they’re all great quarterbacks,” he said. “And Tyler I know has been with the Chiefs and knows something about the offense so he came right along and made the plays he was supposed to make. All the receiver has to do is catch it.”

Roosevelt feels the feedback between him and the two new signal callers has been healthy as they try to understand the nuances of Roosevelt’s game in an effort to nail down the timing that must exist between quarterback and receiver.

Fitzpatrick doesn’t believe that should take long pointing again to Roosevelt’s consistency with his game.

“You can put him at any position; you know where he is going to be at all times,” said Fitzpatrick. “That to me is the most important part about being a receiver, is being on the same page at all times and knowing that you can throw a ball and trust that he’s in the right spot.”

Perhaps that best explains why the mere mention of Roosevelt brings a smile to Gailey’s face.