Falcons' White no longer one of league's best kept secrets

Falcons wide receiver Roddy White was in diapers when Alfred Jenkins set the franchise's single-season receiving mark with 1,358 yards in 1981. Twenty-seven years later, White finds himself the new owner of that record, having finished the regular season with 1,382 receiving yards.


!**Falcons fourth-year wide receiver Roddy White followed up a breakout season by topping his numbers in nearly every statistical category. Last Sunday, White broke the Falcons' 27-year-old franchise record for most receiving yards in a single season. Take a look at how White stacks up against the rest of the NFC's elite wideouts.

"It means a lot to me, especially after the first two seasons when everybody was saying that I was going to be a bust," White said following Atlanta's 31-27 win over the Rams Sunday. "Just to come back and (have) this happen to me, it's been great. It's been a great season for us, and it's been a good season for me, too."

It's not often that a 1,202-yard, six-touchdown season goes under the radar in the NFL, but that is exactly what happened to White last season.

He was the first Falcons receiver since 1999 to go over 1,000 yards, but the troubles surrounding Atlanta's 4-12 team, which finished last in the AFC South, overshadowed White's individual accomplishments.

One year later, White is no longer one of the NFL's best kept secrets, having built on last year's success with a career-high 88 receptions and seven touchdowns.

Along with free-agent acquisition Michael Turner and rookie sensation Matt Ryan, White has helped turn the Falcons offense into one of the league's 10 best, averaging 24.4 points per game.

White's ability to stretch the field has made Ryan's transition to the NFL a smooth one. Winner of the league's Offensive Rookie of the Year award, Ryan owes much of his success in the passing game to White's playmaking skills.

"I'm very happy for Roddy to get that individual record," said Falcons coach Mike Smith. "He's a guy that I think feels very comfortable in our offense. He and Matt have gelled well."

White's season has also earned the fourth-year wideout a selection to this year's Pro Bowl, along with Turner and Ryan, who was selected as an alternate.

"After all of the stuff that I've been through from my first few years, I came a long way," said White of his Pro Bowl nod. "The hard work is starting to pay off. People are starting to notice that I can go out there and play. It feels real good to me right now."

The Falcons' 27th overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft, White was not the immediate success that many expected him to be after four standout seasons at the University of Alabama-Birmingham in which he totaled 163 receptions, 3,112 yards and 26 touchdowns.

White struggled to find consistency catching passes from quarterback Michael Vick in his first two years, but ultimately thrived in a more conventional passing game last season, totaling 1,202 yards and six touchdowns.

"Sometimes you need to go through things like that," White said. "You need to hit the bottom, just to get to the top."

This season, White has proved himself to be more than just a one-year wonder, finishing the regular season third in the NFC in receptions and receiving yards.

On Saturday, White will have an opportunity to build on that success, having helped the Falcons to an 11-5 record and their first playoff berth since 2004.

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