The last time Kevin White really, truly played in an NFL game was the final regular-season game of 2018, with the Chicago Bears, when he caught a 22-yard pass, was targeted three times and took 46 snaps on offense.
The wide receiver didn't play at all in 2019 and last year, he logged just seven snaps in three games for San Francisco.
But the former first-round draft choice (No. 7 overall to the Bears in '15) feels he still has plenty to give an NFL team if it gives him a chance. The New Orleans Saints, who signed White on Tuesday, are prepared to take a good look. White had his first practice with the Saints on Wednesday.
"He's young and someone we'd like to work with," Coach Sean Payton said. "I like the way he runs. You see it (speed) on tape. Obviously, he's a former first-round pick, so he's still a younger player."
"It means everything," White said of the opportunity. "Going on year seven, not really getting an opportunity. Now that I'm healthy, I know a lot about the game, I know how the business works. I feel good. It just means a lot that someone else gave me a chance to live out my dream and kind of prove myself right and everyone else wrong."
In 17 games over four seasons (he didn't play as a rookie because of leg injury), White caught 25 passes for 285 yards. In Chicago, he suffered a left leg injury in both of his first two seasons, and a fractured left shoulder blade in his third.
"For whatever reason, (health and opportunity) never lined up," he said. "But I'm trying not to look back too much, move forward because every time I look back and I think of why and the old stuff, it could bring me down, like, 'Man, I shouldn't be here. I should be here. My stats should be here.' I just don't try to go in that bubble."
White said he can bring speed, a big body (6 feet 3, 216 pounds) and knowledge of the game to an NFL team.
"There's been a lot of sitting and watching, so I try to pick up on little things," he said.
The sitting and watching didn't lead to a desire to leave the game.
"I never played this game for just money," he said. "It's not just a money thing for me. If it was a money thing I would have retired and quit and done other things that were able to make me a lot of income. But it's just something that I love to do.
"I don't think I would be able to live with myself knowing I have a lot of potential, and just giving it up. I don't ever want to look back and say, 'Man, I should have just tried one more time,' or, 'Man, I wish I would have put more work in.' So I'm going forward until they kick me out of this league."
ONE ROOM: Last season, Ty Montgomery was a receiver and running back for the Saints. This year, running back is removed from his resume, mainly because the Saints have need of him at receiver. Montgomery said because he has played receiver before, it's not a major adjustment. But narrowing his focus to one position does help.
"Not going back and forth between both rooms, staying in one room is definitely helpful," he said. "But I can always just go run the ball. It's just run this way, run that way, read the blocks and make a play.
"I'm cool with whatever, I just love ball. I just want to play football. I don't care. I like blocking, I like running with the ball, without the ball, getting open, catching the ball, making plays. It's just great to be a part of the team."
P.S. Montgomery said the interception Saturday against Baltimore in the preseason opener, where he stopped in an opening and quarterback Taysom Hill expected him to continue running, was a miscommunication that has been solved. "It's fixed already, it just comes with reps. Just man/zone reads, stuff like that. Me and Taysom already talked about it. It's all good. It's not really anybody's fault. Nobody was wrong, but we were on different pages and that makes us both wrong."
NEW DUO: All-Pro special teamer J.T. Gray formerly teamed with Justin Hardee to give New Orleans one of the league's most formidable gunner/jammer tandems in the league. Hardee signed with the Jets this offseason, so Gray and the Saints are looking for his capable replacement.
"We've got guys that are stepping up to fill that role and it's going to be some pretty big shoes to fill, because Justin made his mark here," Gray said. "We're working on filling those shoes with the guys that we have now.
"(I'm) grooming them up, teaching them everything that I know. They're coming to me with questions whenever they have them, and I'm helping them whenever I can, having talks with (special teams assistant) Phil (Galiano) and Rizz (special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi) and getting everything situated."
Gray said that receiver Kawaan Baker and cornerback Paulson Adebo so far are among the standouts for the job.
ROSTER MOVES: Payton announced the following transactions on Wednesday – signed White, cornerbacks Brian Mills and Natrell Jamerson and offensive linemen Jordan Mills and Caleb Benenoch. New Orleans waived cornerback Adonis Alexander, defensive back Lawrence Woods, receiver Jake Lampman and offensive tackle Michael Brown.
The New Orleans Saints take the field on Aug. 18, 2021 for Saints Training Camp presented by SeatGeek at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center.