Roddy White a student of the game

Roddy White says he has become a more consistent player by devoting the necessary time to the game of football off the field. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Roddy White says he has become a more consistent player by devoting the necessary time to the game of football off the field. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Vivlamore reporting from Flower Branch.

Surely, Roddy White heard the talk.

Two seasons into his career and there were murmurs about whether the Falcons had wasted a first-round draft pick on the wide receiver. He had just 29 and 30 receptions, respectively, for a total of 952 yards. Good numbers – but perhaps not the expected for the 27th overall selection.

Five seasons later, those conversations have ceased.

White owns the franchise record with 7,374 career yards following five straight seasons of more than 80 catches and 1,100 yards. As he embarks on his eighth NFL season several other franchise records are within his grasp.

Why the turnaround Roddy?

“In year three, I just took football more seriously and took it that I wanted to be a successful player in this league and I could be that if I was consistent,” White said as the Falcons prepare to open the 2012 season at Kansas City Sunday. “In my earlier years, I was out there kind of lost, a deer in the headlights. Just out there being an athlete instead of being a student of the game and figuring things out. That’s probably the biggest thing.”

White, a three-time Pro Bowler, had 215 receptions for 2,685 yards and 18 touchdowns the past two seasons. His 115 catches in 2010 led the NFL and his 1,389 yards were second as he was first-team All-Pro. White had 100 catches, second most in the league, for 1,296 yards last season. The 13.0 yards per touch was the third best average in the league. White has kept up his pace the past two seasons as the Falcons have added tight end Tony Gonzalez and wide receiver Julio Jones to the options for Ryan.

Not bad for a player taken out of the University of Alabama-Birmingham in 2005 who some considered a reach to go that high.

While much of his success can be linked to the evolving pass-oriented NFL, White insists he has become a smarter player. He spends time meeting with Matt Ryan and the quarterbacks. He studies the entire offense, wanting to be aware of everything including the blocking schemes. He spends hours in the film room breaking down each week’s opponent. There are tendencies to be discovered, knowing when to expect a bump-and-run for instance. He might find pass routes that have been successful against a particular defensive back.

“That’s probably the biggest aspect of my game now, going out there and dissecting the film and knowing what I’m going to get [from watching film] before I even get there [on the field],” White said. “I’m just going out there and becoming a smarter, more intelligent football player. I feel this game is so complex between the lines with the things the defensive coordinators are coming out with and how they are using things to … take wide receivers out of the game, you’ve got to go out there and study the film and look at to see what advantages you can take.”

White, 30, enters the season with 530 career receptions, second on the franchise list behind Terance Mathis (573). He is likely to break that mark, needing only 44 more catches. His 45 touchdown receptions are third behind Mathis (57) and Andre Rison (56). He already owns the single-season record for receptions (115 in 2010) and yards (1,382 in 2008).

“I’ve been real impressed with Roddy as far as when I came here and what my impression of what Roddy was,” new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said. “I knew he was an excellent player. Roddy is a very sharp player. He is on top of all of his adjustments. His experience definitely shows up. Roddy gets football and it shows. Him and Matt can say very few words or make a little hand signal and know exactly what each other is thinking. That comes with only with smart players and only with experience.”

Despite the impressive numbers, White readily recites another not-so-impressive figure. He led the NFL with 14 dropped passes last season. It’s something he wants to remedy. He said the lockout left him behind physically and he has also rededicated himself to the fundamentals of the position by doing more film work with receivers coach Terry Robiskie.

“I was behind the eight ball and I didn’t expect myself to be that way,” White said. “It kind of threw my game off. … We fixed the problems so we are going to come in and make some plays now.”

- Chris Vivlamore

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19 comments Add your comment

SeenThisB4

September 4th, 2012
5:37 pm

SeenThisB4

September 4th, 2012
5:43 pm

“A student of the game.” and the name “Roddy White”, are in fact, mutually exclusive terms.

Whadda Ya Know?

September 4th, 2012
5:51 pm

Roddy the only thing I want from you is…
Catch the d@mn ball consistently
Get more YAC
More double moves on these corners hanging off you
Finally…keep your mouth SHUT! Just play.

Whadda Ya Know?

September 4th, 2012
5:54 pm

Seen…why are you always on this MB? I’m just curious. You must be some silly little kid…because surely a grown man wouldn’t live on an opponents MB with childish comments every day–or maybe you’re a silly adult in that toilet of a city.

The Real Rick

September 4th, 2012
6:00 pm

Rodney in the early years was a victim of an undisiplined team, I wonder what kind of numbers he would put up in his career had he been with the current regime all along….

SeenThisB4

September 4th, 2012
6:03 pm

Or maybe, I’m a gifted correspondent, renowned worldwide.

SeenThisB4

September 4th, 2012
6:05 pm

A student of the game doesn’t lead the league in dropped passes, and not just by a few drops, he had a commanding lead on that.

SeenThisB4

September 4th, 2012
6:12 pm

A student of the game doesn’t lead the league in dropped passes by a significant margin, like he did last year.

Nique

September 4th, 2012
6:26 pm

Roddy has yet to show up big time in a playoff game, so in addition to less drops this season, that’s what i’m looking forward to & hoping to get out of Roddy!

Ticketholder

September 4th, 2012
6:36 pm

He did look like a deer in the headlights, unfortunately we’ve got a bubbleboy at qb that acts the same way instead of using his legs and putting a move the LBs. Matty, you’ve been exposed for relying on the running game too much to get you out of trouble!

Greg

September 4th, 2012
7:22 pm

I’ll not comment on all this “Roddy the student” stuff. Let’s just say that I think he’ll be better this year (I think his drops will drop), and that he and Julio and Harry make a nice WR corps.

Rise Up Nation

September 4th, 2012
8:17 pm

Gifted you are not Seen……you troll a teams blog you dont like……does not say alot for you……way to BEAST uo Roddy

Sick & Tired Of Being Sick & Tired

September 4th, 2012
9:26 pm

Now I’ve just about heard it all when it comes to BS~~~~ SEEN claims he/she is a gifted correspondent…….LMAO……that is so preposterous.

WOW….a legend in his/her own mind……..WTF is that all about……even my 7 year old can repeat the same comments over and over on every Falcons’ blog and claim to be a gifted correspondent….N-O-T!!!!

Roddy is going to have a fantastic year because the opposing defenses will have to account for Julio being a deep threat which will stretch the field.

coacht

September 4th, 2012
10:12 pm

Seenb4 is Tim McCarver. Big deal. Who’s shocked?

redcoat

September 5th, 2012
5:26 am

Seen is like those has been, or never were, high school athletes that go sit on the visitor side at high school games just to “stir it up”, be able to have some kind of fake pride, and soon disappear when their team stops winning…….very sad, I wonder where they go and do after their run is through?……..change their name and get on another band wagon I guess?

shesoleo

September 5th, 2012
8:40 am

Roddy is my favorite Falcon and until he retires or leave the team he will always be. Coming into the NFL he had his growing pains just like a lot of the young players do,but all in all he has matured and is one of the most exciting and reliable Falcons we have. (Keep smiling Roddy ) Have a great season despite all your haters. Gooooooooo Falcons!!!!!!

Jay

September 5th, 2012
2:12 pm

He he is such a “student”, then why did he lead the league in drops?

goodgod

September 5th, 2012
2:40 pm

Mr White is the man, over 7,000 yards.

Brian Hunt

September 5th, 2012
8:09 pm

STB4 is just jealous that the thugs in Nawlins don’t have anybody as good as White to throw to.