When the Falcons take the field Sunday against the Saints, they'll unveil the 2013 offense, the one that's been talked about at length. It's the offense that features playmakers all over the field. It's high-powered, but until that point it's all been on paper.
Operating on the assumption that Roddy White, who returned to practice Wednesday as a limited participant, will be on the field Sunday, extending his career starts streak, a streak he showed last season he's capable of continuing despite nagging injuries, it will be the first time this team's entire complement of offensive weapons have been on the field at the same time.
Injuries to Julio Jones and White along with tight end Tony Gonzalez' early camp absence didn't allow the Falcons to have all their guys on the field for a game. When they line up in New Orleans' Superdome, they should all be there and there's no one in the NFL that doesn't think they're going to be a handful to contend with.
Although they haven't been on the field during the preseason together, White thinks they got enough work together early on in training camp to make it happen despite the limited time in the exhibition season.
"When we first got together, I felt like the first couple of days we went out there, everything was fast, everything was fresh," White said Thursday. "We were completing a lot of passes and things like that. It'll be good if we can pick up where we left off from the last playoff game and get out there and do some good things. (We have to) just keep moving the ball around like we've been doing."
Of Ryan's 32 touchdown passes last season, White, Gonzalez and Jones accounted for 25 of them. Running back Steven Jackson brings to the Falcons another new weapon with consistency. Last season he rushed for more than 1,000 yards and added four touchdowns, and while more could be expected from Jackson this season, he said so many weapons means different players will get their shots at different times.
"I don't come in with any expectations (on the season)," Jackson said. "We have a lot of weapons. This offense presents a lot different than what I was used. When opportunities come, I have to make the best of them and just run with that mindset."
While the Falcons players are talking about being patient with their touches in this year's offense, other teams are worrying about how to stop the waves of playmakers the Falcons are going to employ. The who, when and where portion of the Falcons offense is what will keep opponents up at night. Jackson thinks the abundance of weapons gives the offense the ability to control what they do against whatever look they get from an opposing defense.
"Whatever the defense takes away from us, we're going to try to exploit what they're going to give us," Jackson said. "We have to go out there and see what (New Orleans defensive coordinator Rob Ryan) is going to do as a defensive coordinator and what he's going to call and how we're going to execute it."
It's been called the "Pick Your Poison" offense and based on Jackson's assessment, that's a fair nickname. With everyone on the field to begin this year, they're going to get to test it early on against a Saints defense that is going through changes. Ryan believes executing what they want to accomplish, despite what is thrown at them, is the key to making all the parts work together, on Sunday and beyond.
"In the cases of the first game of the year, it's a lot about what you do and understanding your game plan, what you're doing offensively and understanding the scheme," Ryan said. "I think if we're locked in to our plan and we know what we're going to do, we're going to be able to handle what they throw at us.