Not only has Elandon Roberts doubled up on special teams and defense this season, he's also added some offense to his plate, so he is a true three-way player.
With James Develin and Jakob Johnson both on injured reserve, the hard-hitting middle linebacker has seen some time at fullback of late, and has done a pretty decent job. In fact, Bill Belichick called one of Roberts' blocks against the Eagles one of the best of the season.
"Elandon’s got a very physical style of play," Belichick said Tuesday on a conference call. "He has a good skillset. He can run, he’s a very compact guy with good lower body strength and leverage and power, and I think we’ve all seen that on the defensive side of the ball and in the kicking game. We’ve lost a couple fullbacks here on our roster with James Develin and Jak (Johnson), so we use Elandon some at fullback. I mean, he had a big block in the Philadelphia game at the end of the game in the four-minute offense. That’s probably one of the best blocks we’ve had all year.
"But, we started using him a few weeks ago – it was around the bye week. He’s done it in the past. Elandon’s got a great attitude. He’s, again, elected team captain and I think that’s a reflection of his hard work and unselfish attitude and play. He’s been willing to do whatever he can to help the team win, and he’s certainly helped us in that four-minute offense last week. He helped us against the Eagles, too; we just weren’t able to pick it up. So, he blocks well."
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels added there was an adjustment period, but it appears things have improved.
"He does everything you ask him to do – what a great teammate, that’s why he’s a captain," he said. "He’s a good player and he’s a great teammate. He’s unselfish and we’ve asked him to play a lot of different roles. He played in the kicking game a number of snaps, on defense, on offense. Whatever he can do to help the team, he’s got a great attitude. He’s physical, he’s aggressive, he loves contact and hitting. I think he did, he made a few really important blocks that would have made James Develin very proud towards the end of the game there. We have a lot of confidence in him and that grouping.
"I think any time you take a guy over there that hasn’t played a lot of snaps on offense, there’s just an adjustment period in terms of the way we call things, how we get in and out of plays, changing plays, et cetera, for them to get comfortable and feel really good about. I think he’s really made strides there, I think he feels comfortable with his role each week at the game and we’ll figure out how big or small that role’s going to be as we move forward each week."
While it won't ever get to the point of Roberts blocking for every rushing touchdown (like Develin did last postseason), the Patriots have found someone to fill the role when needed.