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Michael Roberts working to give Lions no choice but to play him

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Roberts isn’t worried about the Lions’ increased competition at tight end.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a rough transition to the NFL for Detroit Lions 2017 fourth-round pick Michael Roberts. The young tight end didn’t have much of an impact his rookie season. 2018 was derailed by injury and other circumstances. There’s no other way of putting it, it was a disappointment.

“My rookie year, I would say, was like an introduction,” Roberts said on Tuesday. “Last year, I couldn’t really keep my body up with my mind, so it was a disappointing year for me. I felt like I left a lot out there.”

And now after the Lions added Jesse James in free agency and spent a first-round pick on T.J. Hockenson, suddenly the tight end group is crowded and Roberts’ future with the team is uncertain.

Roberts knows the pressure is on, and he’s been working extra hard to become the do-it-all tight end Detroit was hoping to nab when they drafted him two years ago.

“It’s been a big offseason,” Roberts said. “We’re still working, it’s so early. I’m just trying to be the most well-rounded tight end that I can be. Give them no choice but to put me on the field.”

So what has Roberts been doing differently this year? It appears he’s worked hard to get his body right after a season-ending shoulder injury and also work on the cerebral part of the game.

“A lot of running, a lot of rehab,” Roberts said. “I had surgery last year, blown an AC (joint), so it’s just making sure my body is healthy, and then mentally strong—and able to get through adversity.”

There’s also the challenge of learning another offense under new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. Detroit appears to be focused on becoming a bigger, more physical team—and that start with the tight ends. That has the 25-year-old tight end very excited.

“I love Bevell’s offense. I honestly do,” Roberts said. “I feel like it’s set up for a tight end to thrive. It’s still very early, like I keep saying, but we brought in guys—we have myself and we brought in free agents and draft picks. It’s a tight end’s game right now.”

As for the added competition, Roberts is excited to both teach and learn from the new additions, but it hasn’t changed his own motivational tactics.

“I’m self motivated. I try not to let too much on the outside affect how I view things. So I’m still motivated as I was in Day 1.”