FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. - Don't close the door just yet on Peerless Price's career with the Atlanta Falcons.
Yes, Roddy White could end his contract holdout soon and affect the team's depth chart, but Price is working hard to win back his flanker job from Michael Jenkins.
The buzz among team brass is that Jenkins is having a better training camp than any other player. Though Jenkins and Price are listed 1-2 at flanker, White's failure to report as the 27th overall draft pick means more snaps for other receivers.
Price seems to be making the most of his chances, but the seventh-year receiver has taken the proverbial high road since he became a backup on the first day of camp. After practice Friday, he stared down at the grass and spoke softly when told that head coach Jim Mora and general manager Rich McKay have praised his route running, effort and conditioning.
"I just come to work, man," Price said. "I don't worry about what people say. I just come out to do my job, make plays and compete."
Jenkins learned of the promotion when he met with receivers coach George Stewart last week. Price was told of the change as well, which was hardly surprising after his 45 catches ranked No. 51 among NFL wide receivers.
The news angered Price, but it also served a purpose in fueling competition.
"Ultimately, for what we preach as a team, it's better for us," offensive coordinator Greg Knapp said. "In the long run, it will make us better."
The current depth chart lists Dez White as the starter at split end with Brian Finneran backing him up. Roddy White, who has missed five days and seven practices, will work behind Dez White when he reports.
A former standout at Alabama-Birmingham who led the nation in yards receiving last year, Roddy White is the third first-round pick in four years to wait for Atlanta to offer a better contract. Running back T.J. Duckett was out nine days in 2002 and cornerback DeAngelo Hall six in '04.
"It's something as a team that we're not pleased about," McKay said. "It is our object to get every draftee in camp on time so they don't miss a day. I believe in that system it should happen."
With four practices remaining before the Falcons leave for Tokyo and their Aug. 6 exhibition with the Indianapolis Colts, McKay indicated Roddy White could report Tuesday and still make the trip.
Unfortunately, White faces major obstacles just to earn snaps. Dez White is hardly spectacular, but he understands what coaches want him to do as a blocker and a special teams player.
Roddy White's work in mini-camp and other off-season sessions gave quarterback Michael Vick reason to believe Atlanta will finally have a highly regarded downfield target.
"I do see a special player in Roddy," Vick said. "We just have to get him there."
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