Entering his ninth NFL regular-season opener on Sunday, Atlanta Falcons WR Courtney Roby could have mixed emotions, facing the New Orleans Saints, the team he played five years for from 2008-2012. After all, while with the Saints, Roby played in 62 regular-season games, as well as five more games in the postseason and earned NFC Special Teams Player of the Month (September 2010); however, the receiver/special teams star is taking a different approach to the Week 1 matchup.
"I'm looking at it as another division opponent," Roby said. "It's always a rivalry between Atlanta and New Orleans and as far as the personal aspect, I'm keeping that out of it; I just have to go out there and execute and just play."
One of the many challenges a player like Roby faces, joining a new team, is trying to develop a strong chemistry with not only fellow teammates, but also the coaching staff, in a very short period of time; apparently, the veteran free-agent addition, signed by the Falcons on June 27, 2013, has already conquered such goals.
Personal emotions can sometimes get in the way of these types of games, especially for someone who will now have perspective on both sides of the rivalry, but Roby is focused on the task at hand.
"It's all about being a professional and I take pride in that," Roby said. "I'm just working hard to play and to make plays."
Just more than 24 hours after Roby mentioned embracing the 'professional' approach to Sunday's game, Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong was asked to share his thoughts on Roby's potential impact against his former team.
"He needs to follow the plan," Armstrong said. "We've got no vendettas; he just needs to execute and follow the plan. I'm sure he'll play hard and when you're going against a team like the Saints, you have to be smart."
The message was clear from both player and coach, what's being taught is also being executed, both in words, and as we hope to see on Sunday, and actions by Roby and the entire Falcons special teams group.
"We have a solid group," Roby said. "Coach Armstrong stays on us and he expects the best out of everybody that steps out there on the field and expects everybody to hold each other accountable; so, once you have those components, it's our job to go out and make plays."