Robby Anderson beginning to receive national attention for hot start

CHARLOTTE — Robby Anderson's hot start this year is beginning to attract national acclaim.

On Tuesday's episode of NFL Network's "Good Morning Football," former NFL wide receiver Nate Burleson highlighted Anderson on the show's "What We Learned" segment.

Anderson had eight receptions for 99 yards in Sunday's win over the Cardinals, upping his four-game totals to a team-leading 28 catches for 377 yards. But Burleson explained how Anderson's background makes what he's doing this year particularly impressive.

As Burleson explained, Anderson has a history of bouncing back. He began his collegiate career playing special teams at Temple. When now-Panthers head coach Matt Rhule took over Temple's program in 2013, Anderson felt homesick and decided to go back to Florida.

But then Anderson changed his mind and wanted to rejoin the program. Though Rhule allowed Anderson back on the team, he had to re-earn his scholarship. Anderson caught 44 passes for 791 yards with nine touchdowns in 2013.

Then in 2014, Anderson was ruled academically ineligible. So he attended Valencia College in Orlando, Fla., earning an associate's degree to get him back in good academic standing at Temple. In 2015, Anderson caught 70 passes for 939 yards with seven touchdowns, earning a spot on the Senior Bowl roster.

Anderson went undrafted and signed with the Jets, which Burleson believes was largely because of Anderson's past academic issues. Once he got to the NFL, Anderson had flashes and bright spots. But he had off-the-field issues, too, including an arrest for reckless driving in early 2018. Anderson was not suspended for the incident.

"I'm not bringing this up to call him out, I'm just bringing it up because we all have a past. And we can either fall into our past or come out of it," Burleson said. "Robby Anderson did just that."

Burleson acknowledged questions about Anderson extended to his play on the field. During his four seasons with the Jets, Anderson caught 207 passes for 3,059 yards with 20 touchdowns. He recorded a career highs in receptions (63), yards (941), and touchdowns (seven) back in 2017. Solid numbers, but nothing eye-popping.

"I remember when he was with the Jets, so many people said things (like), 'He's not a true No. 1. He's not the centerpiece of an offense. Who knows if he can really carry the load as a No. 1 wide receiver?'" Burleson said.

But what Anderson needed was an opportunity, and he found that with his former collegiate head coach. Anderson signed a two-year deal with the Panthers on April 1.

Robby Anderson

"All of a sudden, Robby Anderson has an opportunity to prove himself, and that's exactly what he's doing," Burleson said. "Remember when they said he's not a true No. 1? Well, he is. You remember when they said he can't be a centerpiece of the offense? Well, considering what's happening with Christian McCaffrey not being on the field, Robby Anderson is just that."

Anderson looks like he's in the early stages of a career year. He's averaging 94.3 receiving yards per game, which puts him on pace for 1,509 — well over his previous high. He's currently No. 6 in both receptions and yards receiving.

"I wake up every day, and that's one of the things that I honestly pray for is to make this my best season, not from a personal standpoint, but from a winning standpoint," Anderson said after Sunday's game.

"Every day I'm just trying to get better. I think the place where I'm at mentally, spiritually, things like that, I'm just thankful for this opportunity from God more than anything and for my health. I think that everything will take care of itself in due time. Just stick to the script."

That attitude paired with results is why Burleson decided to shout Anderson out.

"I've always thought that you can make your new move your new groove," Burleson said. "You can make your setback a set up for greatness. Make your next move your best move.

"What I've learned is that Robby Anderson is doing just that."

View the best photos from behind the scenes of Carolina's 31-21 win over Arizona on Sunday.

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