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Roddy White knows he's playing scared, and he knows that has to change

Fact: Roddy White once built a lego fork

Scott Cunningham

Ryan Mundy's hit on Roddy White during the Falcons' loss to the Bears took my breath away. It's one of those moments that makes your stomach curl. You're just hoping your guy isn't hurt. Luckily, Roddy wasn't, but if we're trying to diagnose his mediocre play, that does seem to be a contributing factor. Kudos to Vaughn McClure for the relevant quote.

"I've gotten off to a really slow start," White said. "Not one of my favorable years that I'm having. But I've got to turn my game around for our team to start playing better. I'm a leader on this team, and I haven't been going out there and playing like Roddy White football. I've got to get back to just being myself -- go out there and just cut it loose -- and whatever happens, happens."

This is understandable on some level. A poorly managed injury kept Roddy out of 3 games last season, and it limited his performance in several others. He just signed a lucrative extension, likely the last NFL contract he will ever have. Julio Jones is now the primary receiving threat, and Roddy's trying to stay relevant. He can't contribute if he isn't on the field.

All those reasons to be cautious aside, a hesitant Roddy simply isn't an effective Roddy. He played well against the Saints, but he turned in decidedly average performances in weeks 2-5. Then in week 6, he notched a -3.1 PFF rating. On the year, he ranks 91/107 in PFF's ratings among WRs who have played 25 percent of their team's offensive snaps. He ranks 60/71 that have played 50 percent of their team's offensive snaps. In short, he's not himself.

Going forward, I'd rather he go for broke. I'd rather he leave it all on the field, even with injury-related risks staring him down. At this point, he's not helping. Obviously I'm not taking passes over the middle of the field, with angry defensive backs launching themselves at me. I get that, and I understand Roddy's job isn't easy. But we need him to be the possession receiver everyone knows he can be, at least for a couple more years.