Falcons’ White looks to eliminate penalties

Roddy White is not happy with his behavior or his

performance.

The Falcons’ three-time Pro Bowl receiver has three personal

fouls, more than any other offensive skills position player in the

league, according to STATS LLC.

”I’ve just got to stay away from penalties and stop getting

myself so emotional into the game,” White said Wednesday. ”I’ve

got to stay away from the little things that I’m doing wrong and

get back to doing everything right.”

That would include catching everything thrown his way.

But White currently leads the NFL with nine drops, according to

STATS LLC.

White was called for a personal foul and an offensive pass

interference penalty in last week’s loss to New Orleans. He also

had two drops, including one that was intercepted, and is well

below his 2010 pace for catches, yards and touchdowns.

The Falcons’ fading playoff hopes are on the line as they

prepare for Sunday’s important home game against Tennessee. White

says he is determined to eliminate the penalties and improve his

production.

Most receivers would gladly take White’s 47 catches for 563

yards and three touchdowns. He raised expectations with his

career-high totals of 115 catches for 1,389 yards last season,

including 10 catches for touchdowns. He was named to his third

straight Pro Bowl team.

He is on pace to reach 80 catches and 1,000 yards, but the drops

and penalties have helped make this a disappointing season.

Before last week, White’s low point of the season was his two

drops in the fourth quarter of a 16-13 loss at Tampa Bay on Sept.

25.

On back-to-back plays in last week’s 26-23 overtime loss to the

Saints, White was called for offensive pass interference and then

had a pass off his hands intercepted by Saints linebacker Scott

Shanle.

His personal foul came earlier in the game.

Miami safety Yeremiah Bell leads the league with five personal

fouls. Oakland defensive tackle Richard Seymour has four. Of the

list of eight with three personal fouls, St. Louis offensive tackle

Jason Smith is the only other offensive player.

Falcons coach Mike Smith has called for White and the Falcons to

stop hurting the team with penalties.

”We cannot have silly penalties,” Smith said. ”It doesn’t

matter who’s committing it and we had a couple of silly penalties

in the ballgame. Really, three of them that were penalties that you

just can’t have. You can’t flip the field position on 15-yard

penalties.”

There is a perception that White’s status as the Falcons’ top

receiver has been diminished by the addition of rookie Julio Jones,

who has shown potential to develop into an elite receiver. Jones

has three games with more than 100 yards receiving. White has only

one.

White remains the team’s leading receiver. He also leads the

team, and ranks fifth in the league, with 85 targets, according to

STATS LLC. Tight end Tony Gonzalez is second on the team with 68

targets.

Fifth in targets doesn’t impress White.

”Last year was a whole lot different,” he said. ”I probably

led the league in targets.”

He did. White’s 179 targets led the league in 2010. Only Reggie

Wayne and Larry Fitzgerald were close.

White emphasized he can’t complain about how many chances he has

to make catches if he is not taking advantage of his

opportunities.

”You’ve just got to go out there and play ball and catch the

balls that are thrown to you and you can’t drop any of them,” he

said.

Asked if frustration about his drops has played a role in his

penalties, White said ”Uh, a little bit.”

White said he has pressed by ”trying to be overly aggressive

instead of just playing my game, going out there and being calm and

getting into the flow of the game and getting into a rhythm and

just playing football.

”A little frustration here and there. I’ve just got to be

myself. I’ve got to go out there and compete and do things to help

our team win instead of putting us in bad situations.”

White signed a six-year, $48 million contract in 2009 that

included $18.6 million in guarantees.

He is part of an offense that also had quarterback Matt Ryan,

running back Michael Turner, fullback Ovie Mughelli and Gonzalez

earn Pro Bowl honors in 2010.

The Falcons (5-4) are a disappointing 16th in the league in

scoring this season.

”Everybody around here is frustrated about where we are in the

standings,” White said. ”We felt like we let some games get away

we could have won around here. That’s probably the most

disappointing thing, us not being able to finish down the stretch

and get things done in the fourth quarter.

”If you’re sitting 8-2 you’re probably not frustrated about

anything but when you’re 5-4 it’s kind of difficult.”

NOTES: Jones (hamstring) and S William Moore (quadriceps) did

not practice. OT Sam Baker (back) returned to have limited

availability. Baker has missed three straight games.