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NY Jets Spotlight: Robby Anderson

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The rookie speedster has a chance to help the Jets pull off an upset on Sunday.

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Jets Spotlight.   Here we spotlight one key player for each game of the season, hopefully putting a different player in the spotlight each week. Today's player in the spotlight is Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson.  With the injuries to Eric Decker, Jalin Marshall and Quincy Enunwa, Anderson suddenly takes on a much larger role in the offense than the Jets envisioned in a tough AFC matchup.

Robby Anderson is a rookie wide receiver out of Temple University.  A 6' 3", 190 pound receiver with excellent speed,  Anderson was signed in 2016 as an undrafted free agent.

Robby Anderson was a pleasant surprise in training camp, starting off as a long shot to make the roster before emerging with multiple long receptions in preseason.  Anderson ended up leading the NFL with 13 catches for 264 yards and three touchdowns in the 2016 preseason.  His breakout performance led to a roster spot, but as the fifth receiver he was buried on the depth chart when the real games started.  Anderson played just four snaps in Week 1 against the Bengals, six snaps in Week 2 against the Bills, and 11 snaps in Week 3 against the Chiefs, where he had his first two NFL catches.  The Week 4 game against the Seahawks had fellow receivers Eric Decker and Jalin Marshall on the sidelines with injuries, and Anderson became a bigger part of the offense.  He had a rough outing against Seattle, but now looks to shake the rookie jitters and shine against Pittsburgh.

As a rookie Anderson has almost no NFL track record. Thus far he has four receptions on eight targets for 46 yards.  Here are his college statistics.  The 2014 season was lost to injury.

Year

Games

Receptions

Yards

TDs

.

2013

10

44

791

9

2015

14

70

939

7

.

Career

24

114

1730

16

Robby Anderson is still a work in progress.  He is not a refined receiver and has a limited route tree.  His primary value at this stage of his career is as a deep threat.  Anderson has a special burst on deep routes that often creates substantial separation for him.

Against the Steelers on Sunday Anderson will either be the number two or number three wide receiver, depending on the status of Quincy Enunwa's knee.  Either way Anderson will get plenty of snaps in the Jets base package of three receiver sets.  The hope is Anderson can manage a couple of big plays on offense.

Playing the Steelers presents a serious challenge to the Jets defense.  With Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell lighting it up for the Steelers it may not be realistic to expect the Jets defense to turn this into a low scoring affair.  If the Steelers put up points like many expect, the Jets will have to able to answer.  Although long, ball control, clock eating drives might be ideal, against the Steelers' rugged run  defense this will be difficult to pull off.  That is where Anderson comes in.  Successfully completing a couple of big plays as Anderson goes vertical would go a long way to relieving the pressure on the Jets to keep up with the Steelers attack.  With an unheralded background and limited film to go on perhaps the Steelers can be lulled into paying no heed to the undrafted Anderson.  The hope is that Anderson can make the Steelers pay when and if he gets single coverage against one of the Steelers' lesser defensive backs.  If Anderson can exploit his matchups on a couple of big plays perhaps the Jets can pull off the upset and Ryan Fitzpatrick can get back on track.

On Sunday Robby Anderson has the chance to make up for a shaky outing against the Seahawks.  He has an opportunity against perhaps the worst part of the Steelers' defense, their secondary, to begin to make a name for himself in the NFL. With Brandon Marshall and Quincy Enunwa both somewhat limited by leg injuries, and Enunwa not even certain to play, there can be no better time than now for Robby Anderson to claim the spotlight and help the Jets to an upset win.

Robby Anderson, your time has come.  Welcome to the spotlight.  May you shine brightly on Sunday.