FLORHAM PARK., N.J. – Robby Anderson has the speed to blow by defensive backs, but he wants to be more than just a deep threat.
The Jets wide receiver has been working on developing his route tree with his coaches since the spring. In training camp, Anderson has been getting pointers on being a more complete receiver by one of the more complete receivers in recent memory.
Former Steeler Hines Ward is a Jets coaching assistant for camp and has been working exclusively with the wide receivers. Anderson is spending a lot of time with Ward, trying to pick up everything he can as he enters an important season.
“I ask him certain things like what he thinks, what I should have done on this route,” Anderson said after practice Wednesday. “But he’s giving me tricks to the trade, be creative, work your craft, use your sideway speed, use your vertical speed. You have a lot of gifts in your chamber. Let’s put them all to use to open up my treasure box.”
It’s a big year for Anderson, and for the Jets.
Anderson, 26, wants to play in the postseason for the first time and is playing for a new contract. The more versatile he is, the more he could help a playoff push and his bank account.
He has made it clear that a new deal is on his mind, but that’s not the only thing.
“What else do you need to be motivated by?” Anderson said. “It’s that time. But that’s not my main focus. That’s going to take care of itself. Winning, producing, that’s going to solve that.”
Ward can help Anderson become more productive. A physical, hard-nosed player, Ward had more than 1,000 receiving yards six times and won a Super Bowl MVP with the Steelers, while also being known as one of the best blocking receivers.
Ward has been stressing to Anderson — and all of the receivers — the importance of being in shape and being able to wear down opponents late in games.
Adam Gase said Ward had the receiving group’s attention immediately. Ward arrived early, studied the offense and took notes, and his words matter to the group.
“Everything that he talks about: the run game stuff, running at practice, making sure you’re in dynamic shape, just all the little things,” Gase said. “We’re saying the same thing and just another voice coming in saying the same thing, sometimes that’s what it takes to trigger some of these guys. It’s good to have that re-emphasis by a guy that played at the level he played at.”
Anderson wants to get there.
He appeared to be on the verge of breaking out after catching 63 passes for 941 yards and seven touchdowns in 2017. But Anderson’s production and involvement in the offense dipped last year. He was thrown to 20 fewer times and had 13 fewer receptions and nearly 200 fewer yards.
Anderson has said he wants to be a No. 1 receiver and get 10 targets a game. He has developed good chemistry with Sam Darnold and should benefit from running back Le’Veon Bell being the focal point of defenses.
Gase plans to spread the ball around and try to utilize all of his skill players. But Anderson, especially if he continues to develop, could be invaluable in Gase’s system.
“He’s getting more comfortable doing the amount of routes we’re doing with him,” Gase said. “He’s embraced it. He wants to do it. He’s getting better at it. He doesn’t want to be a one-dimensional player.”
Anderson promises to keep working and refining himself and his game.
“I’m nowhere near where I need to be or where I will be. I’m still working every day. I feel I won’t be perfection until it’s time for me to retire . . . There’s still a lot more to put in and many more achievements. We haven’t really reached that pinnacle yet. Until then I’ll never be content.”