Each day leading up to the start of training camp, we’ll look at a major issue that faces the Falcons and head coach Dan Quinn as he’s set to enter his third season with the team.
FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones did not practice over the offseason after having foot surgery in March.
He’s expected to be available when the team reports for training camp on Wednesday and hit the field for practice on Thursday.
With the Falcons reaching the Super Bowl last season, Jones started to get more nationally recognition over the offseason.
Wide receiver greats Calvin Johnson and Reggie Wayne have mentioned him as the best player at his position. After ranking No. 8 on NFL Network’s Top 100 players list in 2016, Jones was the highest ranked wide receiver on this year’s list at the No. 3 overall spot.
Former NFL wide receiver Nate Burleson listed Atlanta Falcons Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu on his list of the Top 20 Wide Receiver Duos.
On NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football”, Burleson said Jones provides such a great anchor for the offense.
Despite being slowed by the injuries, Jones turned in another spectacular season with 83 catches for 1,409 yards and six touchdown catches.
In the playoffs, Jones made19 catches for 334 yards and three touchdowns. He made a spectacular catch in the Super Bowl to move the Falcons to the 22-yard line with 4:40 to play that should have wrapped up the victory.
“I want Julio to get in the end zone a little more… I know he’s going to get in the end zone a lot more this season,” Burleson said. “And then with Mohammed Sanu who’s brought there to be the No. 2. I kind of tussle with this a little bit because I love Taylor Gabriel and he’s an explosive guy… but I love Sanu because he’s consistent and he knows his role.”
New offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will continue to run the offense through Jones, with an eye toward getting him some more action in the redzone.
“When you have player like Julio, (we want to) make sure that we are maximizing his opportunities because there is so much double coverage,” Sarkisian said. “There are so many unique coverages that roll his way that when we don’t get that, let’s make sure he’s one of the primary receivers on that play because (he’s) such a matchup for anybody one-on-one.”
Jones’ rehabilitation from his offseason foot surgery has progressed well.
He had a bunion, a bony bump on his left foot that caused him to miss substantial practice time late last season.
“I just had to get something repaired,” Jones said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution at minicamp. “That was it. It was light. It wasn’t nothing.”
Jones has had two stress fractures surgeries on his right foot, raising concerns about this most recent surgery.
He’s not expecting the most recent surgery to rob him of the speed, power and explosiveness that makes him such a unique player.
“I’m just so explosive,” Jones said. “Every year, it’s something with my feet. Hopefully, I’m glad, thank God, it hasn’t been anything with a knee or anything. But I’m an explosive player and my feet can’t really take it.”
Jones jogged off to the side while the team worked through an OTA (non-contact practice) and during the mandatory minicamp.
In order to repeat as NFC South champions, the Falcons will need Jones at full strength.
COUNTDOWN TO TRAINING CAMP
Countdown to Camp: Day 3 — What will MVP Matt Ryan do for an encore?
Countdown to Camp: Day 2 — What makes Julio Jones so great?
Countdown to Camp: Day 1 — Did the Falcons protect the Brotherhood?
Here’s the training camp schedule:
Wednesday, July 26th — Team Reports for Camp
Thursday, July 27th — Practice: 9:30 a.m. – Gates open to public at 8:30 a.m.
Friday, July 28th — Practice 9:30 a.m. – Gates open to public at 8:30 a.m.
Saturday, July 29th — Practice 9:30 a.m. – Gates open to public at 8:30 a.m.
Sunday, July 30th — Practice 9:30 a.m. – Gates open to public at 8:30 a.m.
Monday, July 31st — Players Off
Tuesday, August 1st — Practice 9:30 a.m. – Gates open to public at 8:30 a.m.
Wednesday, August 2nd — Practice 9:30 a.m. – Gates open to public at 8:30 a.m.
Thursday, August 3rd —Practice 9:30 a.m. – Gates open to public at 8:30 a.m.
Friday, August 4th — Practice 5:05 p.m. – Gates open to the public at 4:05 p.m.
Saturday, August 5th —Players Off
Sunday, August 6th — Practice 9:45 a.m. – Gates open to the public at 8:15 a.m.
Monday, August 7th — Practice 9:30 a.m.
Tuesday, August 8th — Practice 9:30 a.m.
Wednesday, August 9th — Walkthrough
Thursday, August 10th — at Miami Dolphins – 7:00 p.m.
Friday, August 11th — Walkthrough
Saturday, August 12th — Players Off
Sunday, August 13th — Practice 9:30 a.m.
Monday, August 14th —Practice 9:30 a.m.
2017 ATLANTA FALCONS 90-MAN ROSTER ANALYSIS
THE FALCONS 2017 DRAFT