METAIRIE, La. – New Orleans Saints receiver Courtney Roby isn’t the rah-rah guy.
He won’t be the guy making a pre-game Knute Rockne-style speech.
And he won’t take much credit for his improvement over the offseason at the receiver position.
For that, you have to listen to his teammates.
“Roby is a guy that doesn’t talk too much, period,” fellow wideout Lance Moore said. “As everybody has been seeing, his play has spoken loudly. He is making plays each and every game and I have to say he is our leading receiver in this preseason so far.
“It’s great for him because he hasn’t gotten a lot of reps offensively here, he’s been more of a special teams guy, but he’s shown that he can step in here and make those plays.”
Indeed, Roby is putting his best foot forward in the fight for the No. 4 receiving position thus far. He leads the team with 139 receiving yards on only nine catches. What has been thrown his way he has caught almost every time during practice.
On Monday, Roby made camp standout Johnny Patrick appear slow and bad. The receiver worked up the field before darting past the cornerback, so wide open that, after catching a pass from quarterback Drew Brees, acting head coach Joe Vitt yelled for Patrick to get off the field.
Moore recognizes the situation Roby is in. A few seasons ago, he was just waiting on an opportunity to show what he could do.
“He’s doing a great job,” Moore said. “It is definitely familiar from a couple of years ago when I was getting a lot of balls in the preseason, but that’s the name of the game. (When) you get those opportunities, you have to take advantage of them, and he’s doing just that.”
Yet, it’s what Roby does on special teams that often is pointed as why he is so valuable to the team.
He led the team in tackles on kickoffs and punts with 13 in 2011, his first as special teams captain. In 2010, his 10 tackles were tied for team-best and he also recovered two fumbles. And in 2009, his 13 special teams tackles were second-most on the team; he also assisted on seven tackles that season.
“He obviously plays on every special teams, not only as a return man, but you put him at gunner and he’s going to be the first guy down there making a tackle,” Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. “He’s just a good football player is the best way to describe him.”
Roby doesn’t place a specific emphasis on special teams, saying that all “three phases (of football) are important.”
And he doesn’t look at the opening created by Robert Meachem’s free agency signing in San Diego as any more of an opportunity than he already has.
“Any day you are out here is an opportunity,” Roby said. “Any day you are out here to show these coaches your value and the work you put in to help this team is an opportunity.”