x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

NFL: Roddy White flags the me-first attitude

Roddy White is still confident. Outspoken. But he also realises the way to winning in the post-season will be for him to share the ball more with his fellow Atlanta Falcon receivers.

Roddy White realises that the best thing for the Atlanta Falcons is for him to share the load at wide receiver with Julio Jones and Harry Graham rather than hog all the passes.
Roddy White realises that the best thing for the Atlanta Falcons is for him to share the load at wide receiver with Julio Jones and Harry Graham rather than hog all the passes.

Roddy White does not shy away from the diva tendencies of many successful receivers.

He is confident.

Outspoken.

But White has taken on a different role for the Atlanta Falcons this season.

For the first time in his eight-year career, White is no longer the Falcons' undisputed best player at his position, not with Julio Jones entering his second season.

If White's numbers are down this year, he says so be it.

"I told them earlier in the season that I don't want to be the most targeted receiver in the NFL," White said. "We've got a lot of good playmakers and we've got to spread the ball around. We've got to get everybody involved in the game plan."

White promises he will not be upset if Jones, last year's No 6 overall draft pick out of the University of Alabama, catches more passes and scores more touchdowns for the Falcons in the coming campaign.

That does not mean White will not speak his mind, but with goals such as winning his first play-off game and helping Atlanta reach the Super Bowl, he is putting the team first.

"I think Roddy has a great attitude," said Mike Smith, the Falcons coach. "Roddy has been a perennial Pro Bowl player, and I think he'll continue to be that kind of player. Where his numbers are going to be, who knows? But I can assure you that defences are going to have to figure out how they're going to defend Roddy White.

"He's that type of player."

While earning his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl invitation last year, White led the NFC in catches for the second successive season and became the eighth receiver to catch at least 80 passes for 1,000 yards receiving for five years in a row.

In last week's pre-season loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Matt Ryan, the Falcons' quarterback, targeted Jones seven times and White five times.

Jones caught six passes for 109 yards, one of them a one-handed grab for a touchdown.

White had three catches for 46 yards.

Now that the No 3 receiver Harry Douglas has returned from a rib injury, White might have even less chances tonight when the Falcons (0-1 pre-season) host the Cincinnati Bengals (1-0).

"Like I said, if we're going to go out there and sling it, then we've got to get everybody involved, especially Julio and Harry," White said.

"They're going to be very important to our offence and what we do out there on the field."

Although Jones's size and speed could make him more of a deep threat, Smith still considers White to be the team's top target.

"He's our No 1 receiver, and you've got to try to defend him first and foremost," he said.

"And then certain weeks they're going to try to stop somebody else, and Roddy's going to get his opportunities."

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