Slimmer White Finds Motivation in Playoff Fumble

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — LenDale White, the running back whose weighty struggles caused him to

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plummet in the 2006 NFL Draft, finally has found motivation to shape up that works for him.

His second fumble of the 2008 season.

The dropped dropped ball came in Tennessee's 13-10 divisional playoff loss to Baltimore in January.

"I felt like I was one of the reasons we lost, if not the reason," White said during the Titans' current minicamp. "I've been beating myself up over that all year."

So instead of taking plenty of time off, White got busy working.

He reported for the Titans' offseason program at his lightest weight yet, around 238 pounds. The man who dropped from a top 15 pick to No. 45 overall and the middle of the second round in 2006 over questions about his weight and commitment to football now sounds as if he understands what he must do if he wants to be among the NFL's best going into his fourth pro season.

"I don't feel like I (was) the best player I could be in the past. I took time off, too much time off. I'm not saying I wasn't working, because I was. I don't feel like what I did in the NFL the last two years you can do unless you do some kind of work, but I don't think I pushed myself as hard as I could," White said.

"But this is now. This is the time now. I can't thrive on the past. I look forward to this year."

White started all 16 games in 2007, running for 1,110 yards. But the Titans used their first-round draft pick on Chris Johnson, and he became the only AFC rookie voted to the Pro Bowl. White still led the AFC with 15 touchdowns rushing and added 773 yards.

He didn't want to say exactly how much he weighs now or how heavy he's been on a scale. White did mention he has been up to 265 pounds and was at 261 when he ran 80 yards for a touchdown at Kansas City last October, a day he ran 17 times for a career-high 149 yards with three TDs.

Still, the Titans drafted another running back last month, this time using a fifth-round pick on All-American Javon Ringer out of Michigan State. Tennessee also has Quinton Ganther, Rafael Little and Chris Henry on the roster in a crowded competition for carries.

White, who had to share work with Reggie Bush in college, said he doesn't run from competition.

"This is for everybody. I don't care if I was on San Diego's team, New England, any team, you can go get anybody. You can go get Emmitt Smith back. You can go get anyone, I will never run from competition," White said. "I never have and I never will. You can ask Reggie Bush. You can ask Chris Johnson."

White's challenge is convincing his coaches that this commitment will last through the offseason, into training camp and the regular season.

"He came in and reported for the offseason program significantly lighter than he has up to this point," coach Jeff Fisher said Wednesday. "That is a step. If you saw practice he seems to be quicker, fast and in good shape."

White's timing couldn't be better, going into the final year of his rookie contract. He was rumored as possible trade bait for Arizona receiver Anquan Boldin before this year's draft. White denied money is his motivation and said he wants to be the kind of player children talk about.

He also credited a talk with Fisher for helping him concentrate.

"I think Jeff let me in on a secret before it was too late," White said.

That is?

"We talked. I told him I wanted to be the best running back I could possibly be, and Jeff ... he gave me like a guideline of what I needed to do, and I tried to do that," White said.

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