If Roddy White hadn't started showing up on the injury report late in the season, few would realize he's never missed a game for the Falcons in his eight-year career. But since he has, and his status for each game has been questionable in the last few weeks, it's become a topic. Although he has missed his share of practices lately (including Wednesday's and Thursday's), White has kept his games-played streak intact.
The streak has been the least of White's concerns each week as he's gotten himself prepared to play. White's about winning and he knows he gives his team a better chance to win when he's out there. What White has worked through each week to get himself on the field hasn't been lost on his teammates.
"I told him how proud I was of him (last week)," center Todd McClure said. "It means a lot when he's out there on offense; it presents some different things for the defense. When he's not (out there) they can do some different things with their coverages as far as Julio (Jones) and Tony (Gonzalez). He's tough, as tough as they come. I think his wrestling background helps that out. A great player. I'm just glad he's on our team."
Against the Giants, White was more of a decoy than a playmaker, but he still made a difference. New York's defense had to pay attention to White since he was on the field and although he was limited to two catches for 11 yards, he allowed the offense to remain explosive as they posted 34 points on the world champions.
Last week, as he continued to battle knee troubles, he caught eight passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns. His toughness combined with what he can do on the football field, make him one of the most unique receivers in the league. His QB is as impressed as anyone of the wide receiver that has been to four consecutive Pro Bowls.
"I think he is incredibly consistent," Matt Ryan said. "He's an unbelievable competitor. He's one of the smartest football players that I've ever been around. He is very in tune with what a defense is trying to do and he's great for feedback on the sidelines. I certainly think he's one of the best in the league."
White plays with an enthusiasm that is contagious and his work ethic in practice and on the field as a pass catcher and a run blocker set an example for every player on the squad. There were few players in Atlanta's locker room that felt White would miss any games late this year as the Falcons chased the NFC's top seed in the playoffs. His head coach was among them.
"Roddy is about as tough as any football player I've been around," Smith said. "For him to battle through the injury that he's had just speaks volumes. You can't keep him down. He's a guy that, regardless of what is going on, it's hard to keep him out of the game. He wants to play and he's such a competitive guy."
White holds eight franchise records for what he's done over his eight seasons and is among the elitist of company in the league currently and over its history. Some of what White's been able to accomplish is because he's been able to remain healthy. One reason White's been able to stay "healthy" is because he's willing to block out some of the pains that come with a 16-game regular season schedule and get on the field for his team.
"You have to be lucky for that to happen, but you have to be incredibly tough," Ryan said. "Since I've been here for five years, I've seen him play through some things that a lot of guys wouldn't play through. I've got a tremendous amount of respect for how committed he is to what he does."