Julio Jones finally gets on the field with Falcons

Julio Jones is starting to feel like a member of the Atlanta


Jones, the NFL’s No. 6 overall draft pick, worked out at on a

field Tuesday for the first time with quarterback Matt Ryan and

other new teammates.

During the league’s lockout, Falcons players have routinely been

running 7-on-7 passing drills at Buford High School, but this

marked Jones’ debut on a field.

The former Alabama standout did not run full speed, deciding it

was best to jog his routes and catch some easy passes. He’s still

recovering from foot surgery on a stress fracture that was

discovered after the NFL combine.

”I went to Dr. (Robert) Anderson in Charlotte (N.C.), and he

released me last Tuesday to run,” Jones said. ”They just told me

to take it very slow. That’s what I’m going to do.”

Unable to watch film at Falcons headquarters, Jones has tried to

immerse himself in the playbook. He received a copy from coach Mike

Smith when the lockout was briefly lifted.

Sitting down recently with Ryan and third-string quarterback

John Parker Wilson, his teammate at Alabama, Jones got a better

understanding of what his role will be in formations.

”They looked over the playbook with me and told me what I

needed to study as far as formations and what we use a lot,” Jones

said. ”That’s what I’ve been doing. That’s the stuff that I’ve

been mainly focusing on.”

Ryan said Jones is a quick learner.

”It’s our job to help him get up to speed so that we’ll be

ready to roll when the lockout ends,” Ryan said.

Much of Atlanta’s offense is similar to what Jones ran at

Alabama. His new offensive coordinator, Mike Mularkey, worked under

Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban when both were with the Miami

Dolphins a few years back.

”The schemes are the same,” Jones said. ”I just have to catch

on to the different terminology.”

As a junior last season, Jones caught 78 passes for 1,133 yards

and seven touchdowns. In Atlanta, the No. 1 receiver’s role belongs

to Roddy White, who has yet to meet Jones in person, but the rookie

is excited to have a four-time Pro Bowl wideout as his


”It’s good just to be out here and shake all these guys’

hands,” Jones said after speaking to receiver Michael Jenkins.

”We’re ready to get to work.”

Jones knows expectations are high after the Falcons acquired him

by trading up 21 spots and sending four draft picks to Cleveland.

They felt another weapon was imperative for them to win a Super


Atlanta earned the NFC’s top seed last year before suffering a

lopsided home playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers, who had no

trouble defending Pro Bowlers Ryan, White and running back Michael

Turner and tight end in Tony Gonzalez.

Some NFL teams were surprised at the combine when Jones ran the

40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds at the combine even though, nobody,

including Jones, knew he had a stress fracture.

Because of the injury and his new surroundings, Jones likes

taking the steady pace.

”It’s very hard being an athlete to dial it down like that, but

I’m not in a race,” Jones said. ”These guys know my foot was

hurt. I have to be ready for the season. I’m just going to try to

work my way back up now.”