Roddy White felt the need to question his role in the Falcons’ offense last week.
He knows there is no need to question his standing with Atlanta fans.
With his targets and catches dramatically down this season, White met with Falcons coach Dan Quinn last Thursday. The meeting came one day after White missed a practice to be with his mother, who had surgery.
White was encouraged by his meeting with Quinn but had another slow start in the Falcons’ 25-19 overtime win over the Redskins on Sunday. Finally, early in the fourth quarter, White had his first catch for 16 yards.
The fans responded by chanting “Roddy! Roddy!”
White said he heard the cheer and felt the love.
“It meant a lot,” White said after the game. “I’ve been around this place for a very long time, and they know every Sunday I’m going to give my all, and that I’m going to give them everything I got every Sunday I go out there. So it was good. I love those people and they love me also.”
White came through again with a crucial fourth-down catch late in regulation after an apparent touchdown catch by Devonta Freeman was overruled by a review.
“I was really fired up for him,” said quarterback Matt Ryan.
“He played really clutch for us down the stretch. He’s a great player and has been for a long time. He’s going to continue to do those kinds of things for us this year.”
The fourth-down catch set up Freeman’s go-ahead touchdown run. White finished with two catches for 23 yards, modest totals on a day the passing game struggled. Even top threat Julio Jones, slowed by a sore hamstring, was held to only five catches for 67 yards with no touchdowns.
When asked if he placed an emphasis on making White part of the game plan against Washington, Quinn said the veteran always will have a big role.
“He’s a really important part of what we’re doing,” Quinn said. “He’s a really important factor for us, has been for a really long time, and will continue to be. He’s just as tough as they get, and somebody that you can totally count on especially when the game is on the line.”
White ranks only fifth on the team with eight catches for 115 yards for the Falcons (5-0), who play at New Orleans on Thursday.
Quinn and Ryan continue to stress White will have opportunities for bigger games. There seemed to be a big opening for White on Sunday, but even with Jones limping at times and receiver Leonard Hankerson missing part of the game with a rib injury, White had only four targets.
Tight end Jacob Tamme had a team-leading eight catches on 10 targets. Jones also had 10 targets.
The complementary role has been an adjustment for White, 33, who holds franchise records for career catches, yards receiving and touchdown catches. He insisted he doesn’t want to be a distraction on an undefeated team.
“We’re 5-0, so no complaints, no worries from me,” White said. “Just happy we got out of that one. We didn’t play well on offense at all, too many three-and-outs, and we just weren’t clicking like were usually are.”
White said he had no interest in rumors of a trade to a team where he might play a bigger role. A first-round pick in 2005, White has played in Atlanta for 11 years and said he wants to end his career with the Falcons.
“I’m a Falcon and I’m going to be a Falcon for life,” he said. “I’ve dedicated everything I’ve got to this team and this organization, and I’m going to continue to do that each and every week.”