INDIANAPOLIS – In 2010, wide receiver Blair White had a flair for the moment.
An undrafted rookie free agent, White started four of 13 games for the Colts and caught 36 passes for 355 yards and five touchdowns.
White was with the club in training camp and made an impression with his ability. He was re-signed to the active roster in time for the club's September 26 at Denver.
In the late afternoon time slot, the game drew more than 22 million viewers and White caught three passes, one for a touchdown, in his rookie debut. His nine-yard scoring reception interrupted a Denver rally and the Colts won, 27-13.
Later in the year, White caught two touchdowns at New England to help the club mount a furious rally before another huge late-afternoon television audience. His five- and 18-yard scoring receptions in the final quarter helped cut a 17-point deficit to three points. Though the club could not bridge the final gap, his contributions were on display. A week later in prime-time, White started against San Diego and had one touchdown among his four receptions.
White packed all of his scoring receptions into the high-profile games, and he caught passes in 11 of outings. All in all, it was a successful first season.
White was ready for training camp in 2011, but a back injury that he has managed in past years flared up. He missed the camp and the opener at Houston before playing in seven outings. White then missed the last half of the season and spent the final seven games on injured reserve.
It was a far cry from his rookie year, and White hopes to write a different story in 2012.
"Last year was tough for me and the team. It was no fun going 2-14 and in addition to that, I was injured," said White. "My back was bothering me and I had to work my way through that. I eventually got it fixed with surgery. I have been rehabbing since.
The injury for White was not anything new and it was something the club was aware of when he joined the team, but the matter last year caused him to miss extended action for the first time.
"It was a first for me. I have had injuries before, but I never had missed time like that," said White. "It was a new experience and it was mentally just as tough on me as it was physically. I learned how to deal with it. I learned you just have to use setbacks to get better.
"I've had disc problems for a while and the team was aware of that when it signed me to start with. It was a risk. At the same time, I've done pretty well keeping it in check. Last year kind of got away a little bit. … I learned how to use the situation to help me in the future, things to stay on top of. I'm still rehabbing. I'm not there yet, but I'm getting there. It's been slow and steady."
Watching the team go through a tough season was difficult enough, but being out of commission compounded the matter. White was forced to adapt to his plight.
"I think I matured a little bit. I always found myself worrying about, 'Am I going to be healthy to play? When am I going to be playing next?' In the end, I don't think worrying helps very much," said White. "You just do what you can do as a person. You control what you can control as far as attitude, effort and those kinds of things. If the recovery happens, it happens. If it doesn't, the Man upstairs has another plan."
White is an enthusiastic and positive person and a player Colts fans enjoyed watching. He still feels he is on the front side of his playing days. He also knows how important his work ethic is to continue competing.
"I do feel like it is still early in my career. It's only my third year," said White. "You have to go into this year with the mindset of being a veteran. That means being confident and getting better every day.
"I think everybody realizes I'm not as athletically gifted as a Pierre Garcon or some guys like that. I control what I control as far as things like knowing the playbook, being prepared and catching every ball. I don't worry too much about where I fit in talent-wise with other guys. I try to make the best of what I am doing. You have to be a worker. There are no shortcuts. Usually the guys who are successful are hard workers. They work hard day-after-day, and that is the only approach to take."
White has met Chuck Pagano, and he came away comfortable with the new head coach's message.
"Coach Pagano seems like a great guy. In talking to him, he's very down-to-earth," said White. "His message is about loyalty and respect. Those are things that foster relationships. I want to get to know him better, and I'm sure he built a great staff."
For now, White needs to take his rehabilitation in a measured way that will have him ready when on-field work starts after the draft.
"I think I will be better later in the spring. It's feeling better every day, but it's week-to-week," said White. "I have to be careful what I'm doing because I'm one of those guys who really feel he has to be working out vigorously every day. I just have to pull myself back a little bit and be smart about it. I'm hoping when the drills start in the spring I'll be ready to go."
When asked if he thinks his career still is an open book, White said, "I hope so. I don't know where things are going to lead. I'm going to work my hardest and see where things go."