It was second-and-11 for the Jets at their own 45 on the first drive of the preseason. Now Robby Anderson was going long against the Titans, a green-and-white blur racing down the MetLife turf, creating separation from Logan Ryan.
Josh McCown’s heave touched down in Anderson’s hands at the 10. Kevin Byard rode him out at the 2 — 53 yards, just like that.
How can Anderson’s speed impact a game?
“In a big way,” he said after the final practice of training camp. “That’s my gift on the field.”
The Jets are going to need that gift to keep on giving.
Their season kicks off Sunday at Buffalo, and Anderson has a co-starring role at wide receiver one year after arriving as a slim, 6-3 undrafted free agent out of Temple University.
Following the release of Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, and Quincy Enunwa’s season-ending neck injury suffered in early August, Anderson moved to the forefront of a young Jets pass-catching corps. He’ll share the glare with sixth-year pro Jermaine Kearse, acquired from Seattle last week.
Anderson said he’s just focused on working at “progressing.” But Karl Dorrell can tell the 24-year-old is looking forward to what’s ahead.
“He’s excited about the challenge,” the receivers coach said. “He knows he’s going to win some and he’s going to lose some, too. That’s part of growing. It’s your second year in the NFL, and you’re going to do some really good things, but you’re going to go against some really good players.”
The Jets started Anderson eight times last season. He made 42 receptions for 587 yards, good for 14 yards per catch. He had two 40-yard touchdowns.
“He’s fast and he’s tough,” coach Todd Bowles said. “I’m not going to say he’s physical enough because he doesn’t weigh that much. But his speed kills, and we’ll do things to put him in position to make some plays.’’
His offseason brought a positive and a negative. Anderson was arrested in May for resisting a police officer with violence and obstruction of an officer during an alleged incident at a Miami music event.
Positively speaking, he worked hard at adding muscle.
Anderson said he weighed 178 pounds last season. He said he’s currently 185-190, which could help him withstand the physical forces that will try to wear him down.
“I just got stronger all around,” Anderson said.
The constant has been that speed. He ran the 40 in a blazing 4.36 at his pro day.
“I think Robby brings a pretty unique skill set from that standpoint,” quarterback Christian Hackenberg said. “He can really go. I think he’s got great ball skills as well.”
Dorrell said Anderson “has made a good jump,” including in his preparation.
“We expect great things from him,” Dorrell said, “but right now it’s really about him doing things that are going to make him the best player he can be.”
The change of seasons hasn’t been lost on Anderson.
“This time last year, I didn’t have my own home, little things like that; just being able to do for myself and helping my family; just the position I’m in compared to last year,” Anderson said. “Last year, I was battling, hoping to make the roster. This year, I’m working toward the season, able to focus on that more.”
His rookie numbers