FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Although Roddy White returned to action this past Sunday coming off hamstring and ankle injuries, the Atlanta Falcons continue to monitor the wide receiver's conditioning following his three-game absence.
Head coach Mike Smith admitted White reached the maximum of the team's pre-determined snap count for him during Sunday's 33-10 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. White played 55 of 58 offensive snaps (95 percent) upon his return and had one catch for 20 yards. He was targeted four times.
"We had Roddy in a range of snaps,'' Smith said. "[He] got winded in one drive, we felt like. We were monitoring that throughout the game. But it was good to see Roddy back out there. I thought he came real close to busting that pass early in the game. He almost split the safeties there. He was very close to taking that for a long play.''
The Falcons need White to re-establish himself as a playmaker for the duration of the season. Smith seems to have no plans to just let the young players take over the lineup despite the team's 2-7 record. Although the coach said there will be competition in practice for certain spots, no one is going to assume White's role as the No. 1 receiver, unless White's injuries resurface. The Falcons already lost Julio Jones to season-ending foot surgery, which left a playmaking void.
In terms of monitoring White's snaps moving forward, Smith implied it would carry over at least into this Sunday's matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"I think when you start talking about 55 plays, an average game is usually somewhere between 65 and 70,'' Smith said. "I think Roddy will play as many plays as we can possible give him. That  was on the upper limit, by the way, in terms of the number of snaps that we anticipated him playing.''
White seemed to respond well to the high number of plays.
"I felt pretty good,'' he said. "It was the best I felt all season. That was good, just giving me a lot of confidence going into the next couple weeks that I can get out there and get going and get back to being myself again.''
Another receiver whose progress is worth monitoring the remainder of the season is rookie Darius Johnson, who caught his first-career touchdown pass against the Seahawks. Johnson was promoted from the practice squad after White initially was sidelined with his injuries. Now with White back, Johnson continues to have a role. The former SMU standout played 24 snaps against the Seahawks and had a 12-yard score.