Roddy White is having the worst year of his career since 2006. He has only 20 receptions for 209 yards and one touchdown. He's struggled before in the first two years of his career, but that was part of getting acclimated to the NFL. Now it's due to injury.
After a rough start in his rookie season in 2005 and then another substandard season in 2006, many wondered if the first round pick by the Falcons in 2005 would ever live up to his billing.
White broke out in 2007, and since then, he has been a model of consistency and greatness for this team. Since '07 he has posted six consecutive 1,000 yard seasons, and has always remained healthy, playing in 133 consecutive games. But this year has been a far different season for White. In the second game of the preseason against Baltimore, White suffered a high ankle sprain and hasn't been himself since then.
White has also never missed an NFL game in his life until this year until he missed three consecutive games before returning against the Seahawks in week 10 when the Falcons were all but out of the playoff race. Some thought that White's return might give the Falcons a boost now that he was healthier, but it was clear to anyone who watched the game that the ankle sprain was continuing to make White a shell of his former self.
White finished that game with one catch for 20 yards.
One must commend any athlete who wants to play through injury to help his team. Roddy White is a tough man, a great player and a great teammate. But there comes a time and place when the player in question has to realize that he's only hurting himself if he can't be anywhere close to what he was before the injury.
However, that is the nature of the NFL, always play unless you can't walk because you never know when someone could take your job if you're not out there. But White has to realize that there is absolutely no one on this roster that could take his place as the number two receiver behind Julio Jones. White and the Falcons have stunted White's recovery progress by having him play long before he was ready to return.
The result? Another disappointing addition to arguably the worst season in this franchise's history.
You could understand through the first four or five weeks to have White out there as a decoy, but even that was risky. But having him play now with the team's record at 2-9? It's just plain stupid, and risks White's health moving forward. Why have one of your most important pieces play through a nagging injury when the team is completely out of the playoff picture? With the Falcons eliminated from postseason contention, they need to place White on the IR so that he can take his time and recover from an injury that has him averaging 2.5 catches and 26.1 yards per game. That is not the Roddy White we know and love, and that is not the Roddy White that can contribute anything positive to this disaster of a year.
The Falcons need White fully healthy next year if they are hoping to return to the playoffs. Why risk having him potentially hurt himself more in a season where all that matters is what draft pick you're going to end up with?
Mike Smith needs to make this call and overrule White if necessary for the good of the team. Playing him now for the sake of "pride" when he isn't healthy is hurting one of the team's most important players.
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