FLOWERY BRANCH — Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith hardly seemed irritated that Pro Bowl receiver Roddy White skipped the first two sessions of training camp Saturday in a contract holdout.
"No, it’s not a distraction, and I want to state that I’m not angry," Smith said Saturday. "How can you be angry when it’s the first day of training camp and the first day of the 2009 season? This is my favorite day of the year."
With six weeks before they open the regular season against Miami, the two sides have plenty of time to reach an agreement. The Falcons’ first preseason game is Aug. 15 at Detroit.
White, who did not answer phone calls The Associated Press made to his home, is coming off a career-best season after helping Atlanta earn a surprising wild-card playoff spot with an 11-5 record. He has been seeking a multiyear deal.
Drafted 27th overall out of UAB in 2005, White held out six days as a rookie before signing a deal that pays $2.5 million this season. Without a new contract, White will become an unrestricted free agent in February.
During minicamp in late May, White was optimistic the team would recognize the value he brought as the first receiver in franchise history with consecutive 1,200-yard seasons.
"Yeah, I hope they do what’s right in my eyes," he said. "I feel like I’ve shown the Falcons a lot of what I can do. I also know I’m only going to keep getting better."
Quarterback Matt Ryan, last season’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, developed an immediate rapport on the field with White, who earned his first Pro Bowl selection with 88 catches for 1,382 yards and seven touchdowns.
"You’d like everybody to be here, and I certainly would," Ryan said. "Roddy’s a big part of this team, but we’re hopeful that they’ll get it done soon, and he’ll be out here working with us."
General manager Thomas Dimitroff offered no timetable for how long it could take before White reports to camp.
"No updates at this point," Dimitroff said. "I’m confident things are going to get done and they’re going to work in the best interests of the club and Roddy. I truly believe it’s not something that’s going to be contentious. It’s about two parties working together in a fair and firm fashion. I think that’s very important."
White’s agent, Jonathan Feinsod, had no comment when told that Dimitroff seemed optimistic about the situation.
Without White in camp, Michael Jenkins worked mostly as the No. 1 wideout with the first-team offense, though he shared snaps with Brian Finneran and Harry Douglas.
Jenkins was in the final year of his contract last season when Atlanta offered a new four-year deal worth approximately $20 million. Though he knows White likely will command more, Jenkins believes his teammate could help his cause by reporting to camp instead of holding out.
"I was just focused on playing football," said Jenkins, the 29th overall draft pick in 2004. "My agent and the guys upstairs handled that. I knew as long as I played football, things would get done. We all want Roddy here as soon as possible, but they’re going to handle that. You just got to worry about playing football and getting better."