The Atlanta Falcons came within yards of reaching the Super Bowl last season, falling short in the NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers on Matt Ryan's failed pass attempt to wide receiver Roddy White.
One summer later, White remains entrenched in the team's plans on offense, but he hasn't practiced or played since suffering an ankle injury in the second quarter of the Falcons' 27-23 preseason loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said Wednesday he hopes White would be ready for the season opener against the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 8, and coach Mike Smith went a step further. Smith said White will, indeed, be ready for Week 1 and denied whispers that the receiver suffered a dreaded high ankle sprain, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
That lines up with a report from NFL.com's Ian Rapoport, who was told by a source earlier this month that White is dealing with a (less-dreaded) low ankle sprain.
From where we stand, White looms as a solid bet to suit up against the Saints. And the Falcons -- with Julio Jones catching passes alongside the veteran -- are early favorites to get back to the playoffs and maybe even make a return voyage to the NFC title game.
For more on the NFC South, check out our division preview from Wednesday's edition of the "Around The League Podcast," which includes our take on where the Falcons will wind up when it's all said and done this season.The "Around The League Podcast" is now available on iTunes! Click here to listen and subscribe.