FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Roddy White isn’t promising he’ll be 100 percent for the Falcons’ opener at the Saints on Sunday.
White did guarantee he’ll be on the field — just like every game of his career.
“Come Sunday I’ll be ready to go,” White said Thursday. “My adrenalin will be pumping and once you get out there you’ve got to just go play.”
His streak of 128 consecutive games played — every regular-season game for eight seasons — appeared to be at risk when White sprained his right ankle in Atlanta’s second preseason game at Baltimore. He was held out of the Falcons’ last two preseason games and returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday and Thursday.
Falcons coach Mike Smith said the former James Island High star always finds a way to play, even when slowed by injuries.
“Eight years. It says a lot about the type of player Roddy White is,” Smith said after Thursday’s practice. “Since we’ve been here he is undoubtedly the toughest player on our team. There have been times he’s had to fight through things to get there on the field, and I don’t know if there’s anyone quite like him on our roster.”
That’s why Smith said he always was confident White, 31, would overcome his latest injury.
“I think we’ve said from the very beginning after the Baltimore game that we had no doubt Roddy White was going to be prepared and ready to go for our opener, and barring any setbacks that’s what is going to happen on Sunday,” Smith said.
White will carry other streaks into the season. He had 92 catches for 1,353 yards in 2012, becoming only the fifth player in NFL history with three consecutive seasons of at least 90 receptions and 1,200 yards. He also has a streak of six straight seasons with 1,000 yards receiving, the longest in team history.
The Saints have seen enough of White to include him in their scouting report, despite seeing his name on the injury list.
“We know that ultimately those reports mean nothing when big games are at hand,” Saints cornerback Jabari Greer said Thursday. “So we’re preparing as if he’s going to be out there full speed, 100 percent and we’re not going to be surprised by anything.
“He’s a receiver that can present problems, so we just have to make sure we respectfully prepare for him.”
White, Julio Jones and tight end Tony Gonzalez are Matt Ryan’s top three targets. Running back Steven Jackson, the team’s top offseason addition, also is a threat as a receiver.
White’s durability has helped him take control of the Falcons’ record book. He has team records for yards receiving in a game, season and career as well as most catches in a season and career.
He said he doesn’t spend much time thinking about the fact he’s never missed a game.
“I never thought about it really,” he said. “You just go out there and football players play football. You never thought about if you’re going to miss a game or not play. If you have the opportunity to go out there and play, you just play.
“I never really thought about the streak until everybody else started saying something about it. You know, you’ve just got to do what you’ve got to do. You’ve got to get yourself ready to play.”
Former longtime center Jeff Van Note played in a team-record 155 consecutive games from 1976-86. Center Todd McClure, who retired after last season, had a streak of 144 games played end in 2010. Linebacker Keith Brooking (130) and offensive tackle Bob Whitfield (129) are the only other players in Atlanta history with streaks longer than White’s.