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NFL NOTEBOOK: Falcons star WR White doesn't care about big numbers; Johnson's wife files for divorce after arrest

While earning his fourth straight Pro Bowl invitation last year, Roddy White led the NFC in catches for the second consecutive season and became the eighth receiver to catch at least 80 passes for 1,000 yards receiving for five consecutive years.

While earning his fourth straight Pro Bowl invitation last year, Roddy White led the NFC in catches for the second consecutive season and became the eighth receiver to catch at least 80 passes for 1,000 yards receiving for five consecutive years.

Johnson’s wife files for divorce after arrest

FLOWERY BRANCH — Roddy White doesn’t shy away from the diva tendencies of many successful receivers.

He’s still confident and outspoken, but White has taken on a different role for the Atlanta Falcons this season.

For the first time in his eight-year career, White is no longer the Falcons’ undisputed best player at his position, not with Julio Jones entering his second season.

If White’s numbers are down this year, so be it.

“I told them earlier in the season that I don’t want to be the most-targeted receiver in the NFL,” White said Tuesday. “We’ve got a lot of good playmakers, and we’ve got to spread the ball around. We’ve got to get everybody involved in the game plan.”

White promises he won’t be upset if Jones, last year’s No. 6 overall draft pick, catches more passes and scores more touchdowns for the Falcons.

That doesn’t mean White won’t speak his mind, but with goals like winning his first playoff game and helping Atlanta reach the Super Bowl, he wants to put the team first.

“I think Roddy has a great attitude,” coach Mike Smith said. “Roddy has been a perennial Pro Bowl player, and I think he’ll continue to be that kind of player. Where his numbers are going to be, who knows? But I can assure you that defenses are going to have to figure out how they’re going to defend Roddy White. He’s that type of player.”

While earning his fourth straight Pro Bowl invitation last year, White led the NFC in catches for the second consecutive season and became the eighth receiver to catch at least 80 passes for 1,000 yards receiving for five consecutive years.

But White, the Falcons’ career-leading wideout with 7,374 yards receiving, might not have posted big numbers if Jones, the league’s No. 6 overall draft pick last year, hadn’t missed three-plus games with hamstring injuries.

In last week’s preseason loss to Baltimore, quarterback Matt Ryan targeted Jones seven times and White five times. Jones caught six passes for 109 yards, one of them a one-handed grab for a touchdown.

White had three catches for 46 yards.

Now that No. 3 receiver Harry Douglas has returned from a rib injury, White might have less chances Thursday when the Falcons (0-1 preseason) host Cincinnati (1-0).

“Like I said, if we’re going to go out there and sling it, then we’ve got to get everybody involved, especially Julio and Harry,” White said. “They’re going to be very important to our offense and what we do out there on the field.”

Though Jones’ size and speed could make him more of a deep threat, Smith still considers White to be the team’s top target.

“He’s our No. 1 receiver, and you’ve got to try to defend him first and foremost,” Smith said. “And then certain weeks they’re going to try to stop somebody else, and Roddy’s going to get his opportunities.”

And White is going to keep defending himself, as he did in a tweet Sunday with one of his 99,850 followers:

“If your going to be a fan be a fan of the game stop acting like you know football when you don’t know nothing squirt why am I talking to you,” White wrote.

Notes: Smith stopped short of calling reserve CB Dominique Franks the Falcons’ No. 1 punt returner because Douglas, who handled the job as a rookie in 2008, could still factor in the team’s decision. Smith added that Douglas will not work at punt returner in preseason. Franks returned a first-quarter punt 45 yards against Baltimore. … Smith said Ryan and the first-team offense will be on a snap count Thursday. If the count is low, Ryan could play into the second quarter.

FLOWERY BRANCH — Roddy White doesn’t shy away from the diva tendencies of many successful receivers.

He’s still confident and outspoken, but White has taken on a different role for the Atlanta Falcons this season.

For the first time in his eight-year career, White is no longer the Falcons’ undisputed best player at his position, not with Julio Jones entering his second season.

If White’s numbers are down this year, so be it.

“I told them earlier in the season that I don’t want to be the most-targeted receiver in the NFL,” White said Tuesday. “We’ve got a lot of good playmakers, and we’ve got to spread the ball around. We’ve got to get everybody involved in the game plan.”

White promises he won’t be upset if Jones, last year’s No. 6 overall draft pick, catches more passes and scores more touchdowns for the Falcons.

That doesn’t mean White won’t speak his mind, but with goals like winning his first playoff game and helping Atlanta reach the Super Bowl, he wants to put the team first.

“I think Roddy has a great attitude,” coach Mike Smith said. “Roddy has been a perennial Pro Bowl player, and I think he’ll continue to be that kind of player. Where his numbers are going to be, who knows? But I can assure you that defenses are going to have to figure out how they’re going to defend Roddy White. He’s that type of player.”

While earning his fourth straight Pro Bowl invitation last year, White led the NFC in catches for the second consecutive season and became the eighth receiver to catch at least 80 passes for 1,000 yards receiving for five consecutive years.

But White, the Falcons’ career-leading wideout with 7,374 yards receiving, might not have posted big numbers if Jones, the league’s No. 6 overall draft pick last year, hadn’t missed three-plus games with hamstring injuries.

In last week’s preseason loss to Baltimore, quarterback Matt Ryan targeted Jones seven times and White five times. Jones caught six passes for 109 yards, one of them a one-handed grab for a touchdown.

White had three catches for 46 yards.

Now that No. 3 receiver Harry Douglas has returned from a rib injury, White might have less chances Thursday when the Falcons (0-1 preseason) host Cincinnati (1-0).

“Like I said, if we’re going to go out there and sling it, then we’ve got to get everybody involved, especially Julio and Harry,” White said. “They’re going to be very important to our offense and what we do out there on the field.”

Though Jones’ size and speed could make him more of a deep threat, Smith still considers White to be the team’s top target.

“He’s our No. 1 receiver, and you’ve got to try to defend him first and foremost,” Smith said. “And then certain weeks they’re going to try to stop somebody else, and Roddy’s going to get his opportunities.”

And White is going to keep defending himself, as he did in a tweet Sunday with one of his 99,850 followers:

“If your going to be a fan be a fan of the game stop acting like you know football when you don’t know nothing squirt why am I talking to you,” White wrote.

Notes: Smith stopped short of calling reserve CB Dominique Franks the Falcons’ No. 1 punt returner because Douglas, who handled the job as a rookie in 2008, could still factor in the team’s decision. Smith added that Douglas will not work at punt returner in preseason. Franks returned a first-quarter punt 45 yards against Baltimore. … Smith said Ryan and the first-team offense will be on a snap count Thursday. If the count is low, Ryan could play into the second quarter.


BEARS LB URLACHER HAS SURGERY:

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher has undergone arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and still hopes to be ready for the season opener.

The Bears said that Urlacher had an arthroscopic procedure on Tuesday morning to help relieve swelling in the knee and was back at training camp by 10 a.m. He missed the offseason training program after spraining the medial collateral ligament and partially spraining the posterior cruciate ligament in the final game last season against Minnesota.

“The treatment that we were giving Brian, he didn’t respond as well as we wanted it to,” coach Lovie Smith said after Tuesday’s practice. “So we had it scoped this morning, a minor scope on his knee. Everything came out the way that we wanted it to.”

Urlacher was ready for the start of camp, but has not practiced since July 31 and was away from the team recently for what were described as personal reasons. Even so, he said Sunday that he expects to be ready for the opener against Indianapolis on Sept. 9.

Urlacher told WFLD Fox-32 in Chicago on Monday that he didn’t know if he could have the surgery and return in two weeks.

“I am just going to keep resting right now,” he said. “I have never had a scope. I don’t know how that stuff works. This is the first time I have ever done anything to my knee so I am kind of new to this. I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t know how that works.”

Urlacher acknowledged that the knee could be an issue all season, adding, “I don’t see it getting any better during the season. We have to manage it, my reps in practice, and then get through Sunday.”

The Bears had all offseason to address the injury in a different way, but Smith said there was no indication he needed surgery until recently when Urlacher began have problems.

“We followed protocol in what we thought we should do at the time,” he said. “And now that we’re here going back to last season doesn’t help an awful lot.

“Right now Brian got the knee scoped. He’s feeling really good about that. Again that’s about all you can do right now to put the knee in the best possible position to be ready for the first game.”

This is an important season for Urlacher, a 13-year veteran and mainstay for the Chicago defense. He has an expiring contract and is prepared to enter free agency, although he would like to remain with the Bears.

Without Urlacher, Nick Roach has moved over from strong side linebacker to the middle and Geno Hayes is playing strong side. Roach had to play the position in 2009 for three games after Urlacher suffered a season-ending dislocated wrist in the opener.

Defensive players called the latest surgery a minor setback.

“It’s a very long season,” linebacker Lance Briggs said. “We have 16 games of getting to the playoffs in order to get ourselves into a position to play in the Super Bowl, to win the thing. That’s what we have to keep in perspective.”

He noted that Urlacher was back at camp: “He’s a competitor and in his heart, he wants to be out on the field playing football with the rest of us, and it really tears at him that he can’t do that right now.”