Roddy White learned how to go hard in the paint

Atlanta's Roddy White (84) tries to get out of bounds after catching a pass in the final minutes of the game. Johnny Crawford / jcrawford@ajc.com

Atlanta's Roddy White (84) tries to get out of bounds after catching a pass in the final minutes of the game. Johnny Crawford / jcrawford@ajc.com

FLOWERY BRANCHRoddy White and Brian Finneran were reflecting on the good old days this week.

The subject was about Roddy’s rise to Pro Bowl status and becoming one of the league’s top receivers. He had to learn how to play hard at all times. Here’s the link to “Hard in da Paint” by Waka Flocka Flame (instrumental only).

The work of wide receivers coaches George Stewart and Paul Petrino and White’s improved work habits finally came together during the 2007 season.

“I just wanted to be a better football player, then Paul (Petrino) was out there pushing me as hard as he could,” White said. “Ask (Mike) Jenkins. Paul used to put us to work everyday.”

White leading the party after the victory over the Saints in the Louisiana Superdome.  Associated Press

White leading the party after the victory over the Saints in the Louisiana Superdome. Associated Press

White was a first round pick out of Alabama-Birmingham in 2005. (For you folks that like to blast President Rich McKay’s drafts, you have to give him credit here!)

We don’t have to rehash the struggles and dropped passes that marked White’s early career.

In 2007, it all came together for White.

“At that point in my life, I just thought football needed to be the most important thing,” White said. “I felt like I wanted to do other things and football wasn’t first. I was just kind of young to the game and didn’t know what people expected of me. I didn’t get it until coming into that year.”

He remembers his meetings with head coach Jim Mora.

“A couple of times, Coach Mora used to sit me down and tell me ‘we are waiting on you, come on. Come on,’ ” White said. “I took it the wrong way, like a grain of salt. ‘I’ll get it, I’ll get it.’ I just never got it.

“That was probably one of the most disappointing things, with him being the guy that drafted me, that I couldn’t come on when he was here and do the things I was expected to do while he was here. Him being the guy who actually stuck his neck out there for me.”

falcons.0920

White was getting it from all directions. Coaches and players were on his case. He actually didn’t like Finneran because he was riding him so hard.

“He’s another guy, but he’s one of my friends on the team now,” White said. “When I first got out here, we didn’t’ see eye to eye. He always told me that I was talented and that I could run and jump and do all of this stuff, but he said ‘you don’t put the work in.’

“He’d say, ‘it makes me him sick to see guys like you who are capable of doing great things in this league and you don’t want to give up the effort,’ ” White said. “It was kind of frustrating for the (wide receivers) room and for me, not going out there and playing as well as I could. It was frustrating for him because he’s in the same room with me. . . He wanted to see me perform out there on the field. I wasn’t getting the job done at that time.”

Falcons wide receivers coach George Stewart spent a lot of extra time trying to get White’s career jump-started.

“Stew stayed patient,” White said.  ”Even the time when I got benched midway through my second season, Stew was always there for me. He just told me to hang in there and that I was going to get my chance. Later on in the season I started making more plays and making more plays.

Falcons wide receiver Roddy White (84) catches a touchdown pass from Matt Ryan on the game's opening drive against the Arizona Cardinals to take a 7-0 lead . Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons wide receiver Roddy White (84) catches a touchdown pass from Matt Ryan on the game's opening drive against the Arizona Cardinals to take a 7-0 lead . Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

“Then I started getting back into the games. Stew was always a guy that was just there. He was a guy that I could talk to about anything. He helped me through that process. He got me going toward the end of the season, but it was probably too late then.”

Stewart and Mora were replaced with Paul and Bobby Petrino.

“That was part of it, I think after a couple of years of decent to mediocre performances he knew he could do better than what he was doing,” Finneran said. “I hate to say it, but I think Paul Petrino had a lot to do with it. He got him working hard in practice and doing the things he was supposed to do. He really pushed him really hard and then he got more opportunities. If you go back and look at it, he got more targets and more opportunities to make plays as his career started getting better and better.”

Now, they are lauding White.

“Roddy is one of the best receivers in the league,” Tight end Tony Gonzalez said.

Now, head coach Mike Smith and Terry Robiskie are the key coaches for White.

“Roddy has a great skill set in terms of what you’re looking for in a wide receiver,” Smith said. “I can’t speak for what Roddy was in his first couple of years here. I can speak since I’ve been here and our staff has been here, he’s been nothing but a pleasure to coach. He is a guy that comes out, he’s very competitive, he’s very passionate, not only about catching the football, but he’s a guy that doesn’t mind mixing it up and blocking. I think he’s one of the top receivers in the National Football League.”

Get instant updates on Twitter at AJCFalcons and you can join the Facebook Fan page at AJC Falcons.

151 comments Add your comment

Sly Ty

October 8th, 2010
10:30 am

Roddy White has become an awesome receiver.

eastsideYellowJacket

October 8th, 2010
10:35 am

love it. when talent puts ego to the side- they go from good to great. his willingness to chase down a play that most would give up on- and give matt ryan a second opportunity in the game vs. the 49ers- shows he truly “GETS IT” (as well as the others that followed the play).

Carlos

October 8th, 2010
10:37 am

Keep up the good work Roddy!

London Falcon

October 8th, 2010
10:38 am

Big Plays every game. Not many of the so called Elite WR’s do that!!

FalconLaw

October 8th, 2010
10:38 am

FalconLaw

October 8th, 2010
10:38 am

Maybe not LOL

Sly Ty

October 8th, 2010
10:40 am

Great point eastsideYJ. Also, to this point Roddy White doesn’t complain or whin for the ball like TO or some of the other diva receivers. White has become a great asset to the Falcons on offense and Defense. What a great strip to give Matty Ice second chance. Oh yeah: Falcons 27 browns 13,

RiverBurn » Friday Fix (10-8-2010)

October 8th, 2010
10:40 am

[...] From the Atlanta Journal Constitution, a great piece on the rise of Roddy White. [...]

FalconLaw

October 8th, 2010
10:41 am

I’ll be the first to admit that I was one of the many Falcons fan that wanted Roddy out of Atlanta. I thought he had the talent but just didn’t care enough to put in the work and get everything to click. To see him becoming an ultimate professional is a thing of beauty. I’m glad he’s on our team. Now let’s kick some brown butts…I meant THE BROWNS

Sly Ty

October 8th, 2010
10:42 am

Falcon Law I was tempted to put first, but it seems so unprofessional and just silly to me.

PMC

October 8th, 2010
10:43 am

Imagine if anyone could ever get through to Deangelo Hall….

I don’t care for his Brother, but I’m very glad Paul Petrino made it through here.

Roddy has been a joy to watch the past 2 years.

South Ga boy in the ATL

October 8th, 2010
10:44 am

Roddy has earned the new contract he got last yr. Can’t always say that about every player in pro sports (cmon Jenks). Ironically though, when I think of Roddy now, I will always think of his great hustle in stripping the ball from Clemente’s last Sunday. That’s a “winner” play right there. Go Roddy!!!!

PMC

October 8th, 2010
10:46 am

It’s nice when you get to see a player reach the levels the team felt he could be when they drafted him.

Roddy just seems humble and hungry now kind of like Andre Johnson. Attacks the football… forces the QB to target him. He’s trustworthy. You know he can make a play if you give him a chance. He must have been an awesome wrestler.

PMC

October 8th, 2010
10:46 am

guy needs a nickname.

Authur Blank

October 8th, 2010
10:53 am

he’s a top five in my book, one of the top two in most complete WR.

Authur Blank

October 8th, 2010
10:54 am

Roudy Roddy sounds 80’s baby cool

MWC

October 8th, 2010
10:58 am

It’s a beautiful thing watching Roddy blossom.
Gonna be a fun year!

Beef

October 8th, 2010
11:05 am

I used to never think Roddy would be elite, just pretty good. However the past 2 seasons have changed me completely. I think he is a top 5 receiver based on his attitude and what he brings on the field.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by 790 The Zone, Myron Abernathy, Sean Breslin, Mike Wilkening, iam23skidoo and others. iam23skidoo said: RT @790TheZone: Maybe the best headline ever. Well done, D. Led: http://tinyurl.com/2g2obpy @AJCFalcons [...]

richham

October 8th, 2010
11:15 am

Great job Roddy! I was disappointed when White held out for that big contract, and according to this he didn’t really deserve it. It’s awesome to see that he has since changed his attitude and is earning his contract by his play and attitude. Look at Lofton and how the work he has put in is really paying off. Just goes to show everyone that hard work does pay off in the end. Hines Ward is the poster boy for hard work combined with talent. Your not entitled to be a great player in this league, you earn it.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Reggie Mickles, D. Orlando Ledbetter. D. Orlando Ledbetter said: Roddy White learned how to go hard in the paint http://bit.ly/9X0Iou [...]

T

October 8th, 2010
11:25 am

Roddy will never make excuses for his underperformance in his first two seasons, which wasn’t as terrible as most make it out to be, but he didn’t have the leadership/mentorship around him for him to learn how to succeed.

The supposed “leader” at the time was busy being the last in and first out, didn’t watch tape, and was busy running a dogfighting ring. Then add the other nonsense from former players and all Roddy was exposed to was a bunch of talented but lazy and unprofessional players.

It’s no coincidence that once the house was cleaned he excelled in 2007 despite playing on a terrible team with a motley crew of QBs (Redman, unproven Schaub, Harrington, Leftwich).

He’s now the elite WR that few of us knew he would/could be.

C.Wayne Miller

October 8th, 2010
11:46 am

His name is already like a nickname, Roddy, so maybe we should call him The Hawk for ball hawk.

Mr. Bitter

October 8th, 2010
11:48 am

Hate to say it, but he’s also a very nice guy.

SeenThisB4

October 8th, 2010
11:52 am

Transcript of recent post practice conversation at Flowery Branch:

Finneran: Tough game coming up, ya ready for the road trip?

White: You know I am man! Can’t wait to get out of here and get some fresh air, but I wish we were going back to the best city in the country, N’awlenz!
.
Finneran: Yeah, me too. Ya ready for the browns? Ya gotta watch out for TJ Ward.

White: Yeah man. He means business when he hits ya.

Finneran: yathink we can take’em?

White: Only if we get some more lucky breaks…

Finneran: And the bogus calls, we need some of them to go our way too.

White: Not going to stay on top without them, the Saints are getting ready to take over the Division.

Finneran: Yeah, I know…I wish I played for ‘em!

White: Me too, but I’d be their fourth string receiver and you’d, you’d only get in on special teams.

Finneran: Yeah, but that’s better than being in this cesspool.

White: LOL! Yes indeed. Hey man! Bring in my pads!

Finneran: Man, bring in your own pads, you lazy (inaudible)

Will

October 8th, 2010
11:57 am

Seenthis B4- We beat the Aints so get used to it. Roddy White made a great play it’s not luck. Go back to watching your hero Vick. Oh wait, I forgot, he’s out for 6 weeks. GO Falcons!

joekill

October 8th, 2010
12:01 pm

Roddy white is the man GO DIRTY BIRDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

MWC

October 8th, 2010
12:07 pm

B4 has got to be, beyond a shadow of a doubt the biggest sore loser in the history of sports. Pathetic.

Falcon Jim

October 8th, 2010
12:10 pm

B4, good try at creativity, but the content was pretty lame. It just didn’t have the zing you were trying to achieve. Better “LUCK” next time.

Kudzu

October 8th, 2010
12:11 pm

Why do we do this? Why do we spend time “making much of a player” who makes millions of dollars to (do a job)?

Yeah, a few more articles like this one and RW will no different than Moss, TO, etc., a loud mouth me centered brat…

I like RW, I appreciated him hustling down the field and causing that game saving fumble, but I don’t think he, nor any other player, is worthy of praise… We make idols and heros out of millionare athletes, I don’t get it. Just do your job…we’ll applaude for the team…

Mr. Dawg

October 8th, 2010
12:15 pm

Roddy has already been great. But his performance in last week’s game against SF is the kind of thing that creates a path to the Hall of Fame. Quiet for 3 quarters he catches 6 passes in the 4th including 3 on the winning drive that was set up by his hustle and the fumble he created after a near disastrous interception. He basically took over the game and won it for the Falcons (and my Fantasy team!) Keep it up Roddy!

DJ Sniper

October 8th, 2010
12:25 pm

Count me as another person who is happy to see RW develop into a top flight WR. I notice that he seems to have solved his issue with dropped passes. He’s catching everything that comes his way now. There should be no more debate about whether or not he’s a #1 WR now. My next hope is that whatever RW is doing will rub off on Michael Jenkins when he comes back this Sunday. If MJ can play close to that level, then that will open up so much more for our offense.

SeenThisB4 is definitely a sore loser. She just can’t handle the fact that her Saints lost to our dirty birds. Deal with it and move on, just like we had to do when the Saints swept us last season.

Joe Tess Fish House

October 8th, 2010
12:26 pm

They past on TO. They past on Randy Moss. This team is doomed.

Falcon Jim

October 8th, 2010
12:29 pm

Man, fish-breath, I am so glad we don’t have those cancers on our team. I also don’t want T.J. Houshamahajamdodgeosiosdfjnv, because you can’t spell his name.

D Falcons

October 8th, 2010
12:30 pm

Roddy’s development is probably the only good thing to come out of the Bobby Petrino era.

PMC

October 8th, 2010
12:37 pm

Ha, The Falcons are going to crush the Aint’s at home after Christmas. It’s going to be ugly. 2 TD’s at least.

All these “fans” they have amassed int he last year will slink back off to obscurity.

ccccc8000

October 8th, 2010
12:38 pm

Seenthis B4 great game against the popwarner Carolina Panthers last week you really showed up for that one!!!!!

Keith

October 8th, 2010
12:40 pm

Re: Joe Tess Fish

It’s “passed” but that’s not the point. T.O. is too much trouble, and they can have Moss, too. I like Roddy, and he’s better than TO these days and right up there with Moss.

GO FALCONS! :)

The Cleveland Browns

October 8th, 2010
12:46 pm

Yes it’s time! We are going to crush the Fakcons…… Come to the dogggggg pounnnnddd and get your beating….

SouthGA

October 8th, 2010
12:47 pm

I also was one that thought he was a waste. However, the last couple of years he has risen. After the play on Sunday, when he chased down the interception and knocked it loose. Most players would have mailed it in and quit, he ran 60+ yards then went for the ball. Roddy won that ballgame with that play (plus the great over the shoulder catch in THE DRIVE). Roddy is one of the elite players in the league. Like was said he does it without the whining or problems of the others.

Falcon Jim

October 8th, 2010
12:48 pm

And we don’t have Vick to tame the Dog-pound……………

Bird Droppings

October 8th, 2010
12:49 pm

After listing to MV7’s interview with Coach Mora, it sounds like Vick wasn’t the only one playing below his skill level under that staff.

Roddy has grown beyond anyone’s expectations. I’m glad we stuck with him…and vice versa.

The Cleveland Browns

October 8th, 2010
12:49 pm

Roddy White need to stay away from the middle we have a head hunter at safety….Watch Matty Ice turn into Matty interception man…..

The Cleveland Browns

October 8th, 2010
12:51 pm

Hey let’s be patience it takes time to learn how to play the game and become an elite player. R. White has become and elite receiver….

Falcons welcome to the DOOOOOOGGGG POUNNNNDDDDD!

yo mama

October 8th, 2010
1:02 pm

the Cleveland browns are illiterate! You can’t write, spell, and you havent won(not one!) a meaningful game is over two decades. Falcons, ground and pound you back into your doghouse.

dajoker

October 8th, 2010
1:05 pm

Cleveland if you are looking for back to back wins……… Better watch the CAVS
ATL RISE UP!!!! time to make the dogs roll over and be dead!!!! TO US ANYWAY!!!

Brian Hunt

October 8th, 2010
1:07 pm

Roddy is the team MVP through the first quarter of the season. He’s easily the best player on the team.

B

October 8th, 2010
1:08 pm

Why is there a picture of Jason Snelling in the end zone?

NoleRick

October 8th, 2010
1:09 pm

Browns fans talking smack? I have seen it all….

Ben Hill, Been Real

October 8th, 2010
1:12 pm

Good article my brotha!