Over the weekend, about 240 children attended the Kroger Unplug and Play Roddy White Football ProCamp at Flowery Branch High School near the Falcons' training facility in Flowery Branch, Georgia. On Sunday, White spoke to the media about the camp and also shared some thoughts on the transition to a mostly new coaching staff and what fans can expect from the Falcons' offense this season.
As we waited to speak with him, we watched White enjoying his time on the field with the kids in attendance. His enthusiasm was also evident as he spoke about the experience, although White's competitive nature isn't diminished even when he is competing against children.
"We're having a lot of fun out here, man. All the kids running around," White said. "Some of these kids are catching balls on me. I don't like that, you know? But they're aggressive, man. They like to be out here and they love competing, so it's been going great."
The staff on hand was working hard to keep attendees hydrated, which was no small task on a blazing hot day.
"The kids are doing great. You know, it's pretty hot today. Yesterday was a whole cooler, so we'll have more water breaks," White said.
While White did not have the opportunity to attend camps like this as a child, as they really weren't a thing yet when he was an appropriate age, he has been dedicated to hosting these camps and teaching children the fundamentals of football.
"What I like about all the camps and stuff like that is just interacting with the kids and stuff like that and just having the opportunity to just teach them new moves and stuff like that and just watch them learn from coaching," White said.
The focus was on teaching proper technique to attendees, but they made sure that everyone had fun in the process.
"Each and every coach is doing a great job out here and just showing technique and things like that," White said. "Form tackling, which I know a little bit about. Playing a little bit of defense. But we've just been out here just having a lot of fun, man, and they're competing everywhere and at every position, and they're doing different positional drills and stuff like that, so it's been fun."
White had a lot of help with the camp, with local coaches volunteering their time to run drills and assist with instruction. With well over 200 kids in attendance, the help -- from the other coaches as well as ProCamps staff and the sponsors who made it all possible -- was a necessity.
"You need help to get through this thing, especially when you're dealing with over 200 kids. You need as much help as you can get, so the more the merrier," White said. "All these guys come out here, and Sunny D and Academy Sports and Bounty, they come out here and contribute to us and just helping us put this camp together, man. It's just special -- a special moment for the kids."
White was impressed by the talent of the attendees.
"It's a bunch of talent out here," White said. "I'm just watching these kids, and some of them, they're real special. A couple guys over there, they might be pros one day."
It also was impressive to White that so many parents stayed out in the heat to watch their kids compete and learn on the field.
"People down south, there's just something about football -- they just love it so much, and everybody comes out and wants to watch and see," White said. "All the parents and things like that, they just sit in the stands and watch the kids, so that's also special that they come out here and support their children."
White also talked about the transition to the Dan Quinn era, saying that it's a big adjustment, but that it's going well.
"New learning is always good, no matter how many years you play in the league. Once you get new verbiage and things like that, everything starts back from scratch," White said. "So it's been good, man."
The Falcons can't just go through the motions anymore with new schemes to learn.
"You're going in meetings and actually paying attention now," White said. "Going through the same system for seven years, you're just kind of like going back and forth. You know, every OTA we just go back over the little things, but now, it's new learning, so you're somewhat tentative and just going out there and just learning."
White said that while the Falcons have had a couple of tough seasons, he still believes they're a good team.
"Every year, I feel like we have a good team. The key to our thing is just staying healthy," White said. "I think if we could just have everybody out there that we need out there, that we want out there every year and playing at a high level, we'll be a good football team."
We'll have to wait until preseason to actually get a sense of the Falcons' potential this season, but White emphasized that things will be different.
"It's a new era. It's a new coach, new things coming, so we'll be happy to get these guys out here and just see what we can do," White said. "Really, we won't know until the preseason starts, really when guys get out there and start running around and we start hitting and stuff like that. So there will be a different team and different attitude."
I asked White if the team's decision to retain his position coach, Terry Robiskie, had eased the transition to a mostly new staff, and White said that outside of the receivers' room, things are very different.
"We're just having more fun in our room. That's the thing about keeping him on the staff. Things don't change in the wideout room. It stays the same," White said. "But you know, around the new coaching staff it's different. It's different energy, there's different personalities -- just a lot of things are different now, so we do a whole lot of things differently."
One of the differences White noted was that things are more fun under Dan Quinn's leadership.
"It's a lot more fun than the old regime, but it's still football," White said. "At the end of the day, DQ wants us to play fast and physical football, and that's what we've got to go out there and do."
White noted that the team will be transitioning back to running the football effectively and not relying on Matt Ryan to throw the ball as much.
"I just don't think we're going to go out there and throw it 30, 40 times a game like we did in the past," White said. "I'm not saying we didn't like that, but it's going to be different, man. We'll get back to our old regime where we run the football and play action pass and convert on third downs -- just making it really simple."
And there's a benefit to simplifying the offensive approach.
"So the more you simplify the game, the easier it is to play football," White said. "So that's what they want to do, and that's what we're going to have to do -- just go out there and play fast and know what you're doing."
White's not a diva. He's not concerned about individual achievements, preferring to focus on what the team can achieve collectively. The idea of passing the ball less, and thus having fewer opportunities to make plays, doesn't phase him.
"I've never concerned myself about that, and when we had Mike Mularkey, we ran the ball and we found ways to get me the ball," White said. "But I never worry about passes and things like that. My opportunities are going to come. I've just got to hold onto the ball and make my plays when I've got to make them."
White was asked if the Falcons hoped to replicate the success the Atlanta Hawks experienced this season, and White said they want to surpass what the Hawks were able to accomplish this year.
"We want to make it to the big game ... we've been to the NFC Championship Game and lost there, so we want to take the next step," White said. "If we don't make it to the Super Bowl -- I mean, that's why you play this game, to go all the way to the big game, so that's what we want to do here."