Falcons’ Roddy White having his best season yet

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ATLANTA (AP) - Roddy White is one of the biggest cutups in the Atlanta Falcons locker room.

He has this infectious, high-pitched laugh that gets quite a workout, whether he’s cracking a joke or playing along with a teammate. He’ll say pretty much whatever comes to his mind and if someone is offended, well, so be it. On the rare occasion that someone ticks him off, chances are he won’t stay mad for long.

Early on in his career, White’s carefree attitude led some to wonder if he’d take full advantage of his talents.

Not anymore.

White made the Pro Bowl the past two years, and his numbers through the first seven games this season are better than any other receiver in the NFL: a league-leading 54 receptions for 747 yards.

“If you throw it his way,” said Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez, “he will usually come down with it.”

Atlanta (5-2) heads into a bye week leading the NFC South, in large part because of No. 84. Just look at what he did in Sunday’s 39-32 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals _ 11 catches for 201 yards and two touchdowns, plus a brilliant leaping grab on a 2-point conversion.

Of course, that might have been only his third- or fourth-best catch on the day. There was a grab early on when he stumbled coming across the middle but still made the catch on his knees. And his juggling, 43-yard touchdown catch surely made all the highlight shows.

But his best play of all was sticking out his right hand to haul in a 23-yard throw from Matt Ryan, all while using his left hand to fend off Bengals cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones.

“That was a first,” White said, breaking into that grin of his.

Making his performance even more satisfying, he put up those huge numbers while playing a team that features two of the league’s most prominent receivers, Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens. Both had big games themselves, but White surpassed their combined yards (Ocho had 108, T.O. accounted for 88) all by himself.

“I’ve always said that he’s one of the best players in the league,” Ryan said. “He certainly proved that.”

Not even a major blunder could ruin White’s day.

After he caught a short pass near the end of the third quarter, Jones came up and yanked the ball away just before White’s knee touched the turf. Jones picked up the fumble and took off in the other direction for a 59-yard touchdown that gave the Bengals a stunning 25-24 lead, after they trailed 24-3 at halftime.

“I was feeling kind of down after that fumble,” White said. “I just wanted to get back out there and make some plays to help our team win.”

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