FOXBORO -- Roddy White hasn't looked like himself through the early part of Atlanta's schedule. While he has played in each of the Falcons' three games this season -- now in his eighth season, he hasn't missed a game in his career -- a high-ankle sprain has limited him to seven catches on 10 targets for 56 yards and no touchdowns.
His wildly-productive past still garners him plenty of attention when not at full strength. He has surpassed the 1,000-yard mark every year since 2007, and in that span he has caught 49 touchdowns.
If he's on the field, whether or not he's fully healthy, he earns the respect of opposing defenses. It will be no different on Sunday night against the Patriots.
"We'll be watching," said safety Devin McCourty when asked how closely the Pats defense will monitor White's movement early in Sunday night's game.
"He's a guy that's made a lot of plays in the NFL. We can't go into the game and say he's gonna be hurt, he's gonna be this. We gotta expect his best, and that's how we're going to enter the game."
White played a season-high 47-of-66 offensive snaps last week against the Dolphins and appears to be on the mend. Though the Patriots are planning for his best effort, if White looks hobbled to start the game, their defense can adjust from there.
"Game-plan wise we always make some kind of adjustments throughout the game [depending on] who they're going to, what they're doing," McCourty said. "We don't know exactly how they're going to attack us until we play so there will always be adjustments."
New England's secondary knows it will have its work cut out for them, even if White is something less than what he's been proven to be over the last several years.
They have another gifted receiver, Julio Jones, who has compiled 373 yards and two touchdowns on 27 catches and is making a case for himself to be considered the game's most dangerous receiver.
"When he first came in the league, it was still kind of the Roddy White show over there," said Patriots corner Aqib Talib, who has played Atlanta seven times as a member of the Buccaneers.
"Now Julio kind of took the reigns as the No. 1 receiver. Don't get me wrong, Roddy White is still in there and does his part, but Julio is kind of their go-to guy right now."
Tight end Tony Gonzalez (11 catches), receiver Harry Douglas (9 catches) and running back Jacquizz Rodgers (7 catches) also factor into the passing game for quarterback Matt Ryan, making Sunday night the most challenging test of the season for New England's secondary.
"We gotta go out there and play well as a unit," McCourty said. "There's not going to be one guy that goes out there and matches up with one of their guys and calls it a day. Everyone's gonna have to come ready to play. Tony Gonzalez has been doing it for a lot of years now and he's still very effective. The other two guys, Harry Douglas and Roddy White have made plays, and because of the success Julio Jones has, I think sometimes people forget, but we're well aware of it in the defensive meeting room."