FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) Atlanta Falcons receiver Roddy White skipped practice Wednesday for an undisclosed personal matter, while the team addressed concerns that he’s not happy with a diminished role in the offense.
The 33-year-old White has only two catches for 8 yards over the last three games for the Falcons (4-0), who host Washington on Sunday.
White griped about the lack of passes coming his way during an interview with ESPN.com on Tuesday. He was out of town on Wednesday and not available for comment.
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First-year coach Dan Quinn downplayed the complaints from the leading receiver in franchise history.
”I have great respect for Roddy and all the great things he brings to our team,” Quinn said. ”The opportunities will be there going forward.”
White was targeted eight times and finished with four catches for 84 yards in the season-opening victory over Philadelphia. Since then, he’s hardly done anything other than block.
White didn’t catch any passes in victories over the New York Giants and Dallas. In fact, he was the intended receiver on just one pass in those two games.
Last Sunday, White was targeted four times in a 48-21 rout of Houston, making a 4-yard catch in the first quarter and another 4-yarder in the second. The Texans clearly focused their coverage on Julio Jones, limiting him to four receptions for 38 yards, but quarterback Matt Ryan turned to Leonard Hankerson instead of White to pick up the slack.
Hankerson, in his first year with the Falcons, has quickly developed into one of Ryan’s favorite receivers. He had six catches for 103 yards against the Texans and is tied for second on the team with 17 catches for 241 yards and two touchdowns.
Jones is having another huge season with 38 catches for 478 yards and four TDs, while running back Devonta Freeman (17 catches, 198 yards) has developed into a significant threat out of the backfield.
As for White, he’s the team’s fifth-leading receiver, also trailing tight end Jacob Tamme (eight catches, 104 yards), who didn’t even play last week while recovering from a concussion.
Ryan said he’s not concerned about White being unhappy.
”I always want guys who want the ball,” the quarterback said. ”I know Roddy as well as anybody in this building. He’s about winning. There’s no question about that. I understand. He’s a competitor and he wants to make plays. I really believe that as the year goes on, the ball is going to find different people.”
White has 10,449 receptions in his 11-year career, which includes seven seasons with at least 80 receptions and a pair of 100-catch campaigns. A month into this season, he’s on pace for 24 catches and 368 yards.
Ryan expects White to take on greater importance as opponents continue to design their coverages for stopping Jones.
”The way people are defending us, and having to adjust to where Julio’s at, coverages are going to allow other guys to step up and make a lot of plays,” Ryan said. ”It’s going to be different guys. (White is) going to make a ton of plays for us this year.”
Quinn said he won’t ask offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to look for a way to get White more involved but does intend to address his concerns.
”When he gets back in town, we’ll have a chance to talk some about that stuff,” Quinn said. ”We have a good relationship. That will be an easy conversation to have.”
Notes: Jacob Tamme was back at practice and cleared to play. … RB Tevin Coleman (ribs) got limited work after missing the last two games. … LB Justin Durant (elbow) didn’t practice after being hurt in the first half against the Texans.
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