Atlanta – “Zero chance I’m missing the opener,” Falcons wide receiver Roddy White told Channel 2 sports director Zach Klein. “It’s Monday Night Football. I have to be out there.”
Game 1 of season 11 for the four-time Pro Bowler is Monday and White was not going to miss it. Fifteen days after arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow, he was back at practice and his ear-to-ear smile was, too.
Matt Ryan is the face of the franchise, Julio Jones is the future and, while White has the most tenure with the Falcons, he does not believe Father Time has caught up with him.
“I don’t think so. I think the pre-season has been really bad for me, just going out there and getting ready for the regular season. We have 16 games scheduled and that’s what I intend to play,” said White.
He played all 16 games every year during his first eight years in the NFL, but has not played a complete season since 2012. There was the twisted ankle during the 2013 season, a pulled hamstring in 2014 and he now the elbow.
White is signed through 2018 and while the sun is setting on his career, he told me a Super Bowl run is still possible.
“I don’t ever feel like the window is closing as long as we have Matt (Ryan), Julio, me,” said White. “I always feel like as long as you have your core players, you’ve always got a chance to get there.
I think we’re good enough on both sides of the ball and special teams to make a run and make some noise. Unless one of us gets hurt, which we pray doesn’t happen, we’ve always got a chance.”
A chance, yes. But, the Falcons have won 10-games the last two years combined and with less than a week to go until their season opener, they are still bringing in players to compete for a spot on the offensive line.
“We just have to go out there and execute,” said White. “I think if we go out there with the guys we’ve got, we’ll be perfectly fine. Matt’s excellent in making calls and getting people blocked up. Yes we have to protect him, but the biggest thing for us this year is we have to get off running the ball. If we can run the ball like we used to when we had Mike Tuner it makes the game so much easier for Matt.”
The games should be easier this year. The Falcons have the softest schedule of all 32 teams. New season, new coach, new hope, but the same feeling in the tunnel pregame.
“The butterflies are everywhere. Monday night football. Everyone is watching, millions of people watching you put on a show,” said White.