As Falcons lean on Jones, White willing to 'sit back'
The Falcons (2-0) have leaned heavily on their top receiver, Julio Jones. With Atlanta preparing for Sunday's game at Dallas, White wasn't going to complain about going without a catch in a game for the first time in almost a decade.
White, Atlanta's leading receiver, had catches in 130 consecutive games since Dec. 3, 2006. The streak began with Michael Vick at quarterback.
Asked Thursday if he could remember that 2006 game at Washington, White said ''No, that was so long ago. That was almost 10 years ago.''
Jones' status as the Falcons' new co-star with quarterback Matt Ryan was affirmed when Jones agreed to a $71.25 million, five-year contract extension before the season.
Jones is tied with New England's Julian Edelman for the NFL lead with 22 catches, including two for touchdowns. White is left to adjust to his new supporting role, along with receivers Hankerson, Devin Hester and tight end Jacob Tamme.
''I'm just going to play my role and do what I have to do for our team, whatever it takes for us to win,'' White said. ''I'm just going to sit back. He's been doing a good job. He's on pace to catch like 160 passes, so obviously that's really good. He's been lights-out and we're going to need him.''
White had four catches for 84 yards in the opening win over the Eagles.
Ryan said he considers White, Jones and tight end Tony Gonzalez ''the best players I've ever played with.''
Ryan said White will have more big games.
''He's going to make a lot of plays for us,'' Ryan said, adding he'll ''find different guys at different times, depending on how they play us. It's going to be a different guy every week stepping up.''
Hankerson, enjoying a career revival, had 77 yards receiving and a touchdown as the top complement to Jones.
It was more evidence of coach Dan Quinn's belief that receiver is one of Atlanta's deepest positions.
''Not only is it a deep group, it's one of our most competitive groups just in terms of the way they work and go after it,'' Quinn said Thursday.
Justin Hardy, a fourth-round pick, has been inactive the first two weeks. Nick Williams and Eric Weems, the team's top return specialist with Hester recovering from a toe injury, have played ahead of Hardy.
Hankerson played only one game with Washington last season while recovering from a 2013 left knee injury. He had a serious hip injury in his 2011 rookie season.
''I'm just happy to be where I'm at today,'' Hankerson said. ''I worked hard getting myself healthy.''
Quinn said the hard work was obvious in the offseason and training camp.
''It was no surprise to see him play well,'' Quinn said.
NOTES: LB Brooks Reed (groin) returned to practice in a limited capacity after missing the first two games. He likely will need at least another week before he is ready for a game. Even so, Quinn was happy to see Reed on the practice field sooner than expected. ... Hester and RB Tevin Coleman (cracked rib) missed practice. RB Devonta Freeman is expected to make his first start against Dallas. ... DE Kroy Biermann, who had a key strip-sack against the Giants, returned after being with his wife, television personality Kim Zolciak, on Wednesday following her mini-stroke.
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