Corey White demands more of himself

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- Cornerback Corey White has been getting noticed for the right reasons in New Orleans Saints' training camp over the past week or two.

He has made a number of nice plays in practice, including a nifty pass breakup on a deep ball against speedy receiver Joe Morgan on Tuesday morning.

Last year, however, White got noticed for a lot of the wrong reasons after he took over for injured starter Jabari Greer in November.

White got picked on, early and often, once he got into the lineup. The Atlanta Falcons pelted him with a series of short, underneath passes in his debut. Then in the playoffs, both the Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks had success throwing deep against him twice each.

And naturally, that led to White getting picked on by a number of fans, as well.

I would argue that White played better than people think. He played well throughout December, including two games against the Carolina Panthers. And his coverage wasn’t that bad in either the Philly or Seattle game -- he mostly lost jump balls against receivers who went up and made great catches.

But White refused to agree with that assessment Monday.

He picked on himself, as well.

“It don’t matter what it looked like. If I get a ball caught on me, I’m going to grade myself as an F,” White said. “You know, I’m hard on myself. They get paid too, they’re going to make plays. But I just have to make more plays. That’s what I’m going through this year, trying to battle more, compete more and make more plays.”

No matter how you grade White’s overall performance last year, the most important thing is that he gained valuable experience. And with that experience, White said, came confidence.

As he heads into his third NFL season, White said he is eager to build on what he learned from the good and bad experiences alike.

“And it’s not gonna be different this year. If I get out there on the field, I’m gonna be a target,” White said. “You know, we’ve got Keenan [Lewis], Champ [Bailey], an all-time great Pro Bowler. I’m gonna be the one they pick on just naturally. But this year, I’m going to be ready for that moment.”

White is still in the mix for the Saints’ No. 2 cornerback competition against Bailey and Patrick Robinson -- though he might fit better as a versatile nickelback.

The Saints like White’s physicality inside, and they’ve even lined up the 6-foot-1, 205-pounder as a deep safety in some formations this summer. He’s also a valued special teamer, who serves as a gunner on punt coverage.

“He’s big, he’s a good tackler. I think the closer to the ball he is, the more comfortable or the more success he has,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “He’s played in the slot for us. He had to play outside for us last year because of injuries. And I think he’s got pretty good ball skills. All pretty good traits to have as a corner, competing for reps, not only in the nickel but in the base.

“He’s working to improve, getting better. In the meantime, there’s some things he does very well.”