White back and optimistic about 2014 offense


For the first couple of weeks in Flowery Branch, the Falcons have been without the services of wide receiver Roddy White. The veteran pass catcher has been away from the team grieving from the death of his younger brother.

All throughout these two weeks head coach Mike Smith has pledged his support for Roddy during his time away and stayed in contact with White. He did welcome the sight of Roddy getting back in uniform and joining the rest of his team.

“It’s nice to see Roddy back out,” Smith said. “He’s been through a lot over the last three or four weeks with his family. So, it was good for him to be with his football family today. He looked great.”

White was away from his team during these voluntary workouts and should be with the team from here on out, barring any unforeseen circumstances should arise.

As Smith has shown before, he is very sensitive to the needs of his players and staff. In the case of Roddy’s situation, he just wanted him to know that the team is there for him.

“We spend so much time with one another and we are another family,” Smith said. “We are very supportive of one another, regardless of what the situation is. We were in contact with Roddy. We got an opportunity to spend some time with Roddy and Roddy’s back feeling good about where he is physically. I (also) think he’s in a good place mentally.”

White was visibly in a good mood during Tuesday’s workout with the team. Showing as much by joking with teammates/staff and getting involved in the offense versus defense celebrations when his side won the 11 on 11 battles.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is also excited about having his one of his favorite targets back on the field. Plus he’s already looking forward to the eventual return of wide receiver Julio Jones.

“We had Roddy back on the field today and he looked good,” Ryan said. “I thought he looked great. It’s nice to have those guys back healthy and if we can keep them on the field, I think its going to bode well for us.”

Jones is out with his team at the Falcons practices; however he is not expected to resume on-field work with the team until the start of training camp. As of right now, he is working out with the training staff on a side field trying to recover from season ending foot surgery.

The Falcons offense did look a little crisper than it had in the past couple of weeks during the 11 on 11 team drills on Tuesday. A major factor could have been the return of Roddy White to the field. However a major focus for this team in 2014, is going to be trying for better results out of their running game. Matt Ryan is confident they can do that.

“Across the board I think we’re pretty deep at that position,” Ryan said. “I think we have a lot of guys who all have a little bit of a different skill set. However when you kind of blend them together it gives us a lot of different options out of the backfield. Those guys have been some of our most consistent performers during the offseason. Those guys have done a great job in the weight room, during the condition program, and out here on the practice field. I think it’s really encouraging to see.”

Getting back to having players healthy on the field for the success of the offense, the Falcons are hopeful that running back Steven Jackson can stay on the field this season. The team was without him for almost a month in 2013, as he tried to recover from a hamstring injury.

All in all the Falcons will try to improve on their measly 77.9 yards a game on the ground. That stat line was bad enough for them to finish dead last in the NFL.

Truth of the matter in 2014 is the Falcons offense will improve, if Roddy White and Julio Jones are able to stay healthy. Second, they need a huge improvement in the running game. Third, the offensive line production must improve. In order for that to happen, a more solid running game could be the cure for those position woes in 2013.

The Falcons will continue to work this week until Friday. They will take a break until Tuesday, when they start their three day mandatory mini-camp.





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