Julio Jones prefers low profile for Falcons

Julio Jones isn’t interested in discussing his


Bravado isn’t his style.

”I’ve been like this my whole life,” Jones said Friday. ”This

is the way I am.”

Jones’ transformation into a professional receiver with the

Atlanta Falcons started at Alabama, where Crimson Tide coach Nick

Saban enforced a businesslike approach to practice and film


But Jones said he was soft-spoken long before he signed a

scholarship at Alabama.

Growing up in the small town of Foley, Ala. – about 25 miles

southeast of Mobile and 10 miles from the Gulf of Mexico – Jones

learned at an early age that performance meant far more to him than


”You let your play do the talking out there on the field,

man,” Jones said. ”I’m not going to say anything negative about

the next man I’m going against, you know? I’m just going to go out

there and give it my all for 60 minutes.”

When the Atlanta Falcons (11-2) host the New York Giants (8-5)

on Sunday, Jones could move into a bigger role and become

quarterback Matt Ryan’s top target.

Roddy White, the team’s leading receiver, has a sore right knee

and did not practice this week.

If Jones becomes Ryan’s primary option, the second-year wideout

says he is prepared for the challenge. But don’t expect Jones to

pound his chest or do some fancy dance in the end zone.

”I just go out there and try to perform and be consistent for

this organization,” Jones said. ”Especially being in the NFL,

it’s all about consistency and working hard. Everybody is athletic

here in the NFL. It’s all about continuing to try to get


As the NFL’s sixth overall draft pick last year, Jones was

scrutinized as a golden child of sorts.

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff sent Atlanta’s No. 27

spot in the first round to Cleveland and gave the Browns a second-

and fourth-round pick in 2011 and a first- and fourth-round spot

this year to acquire the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Jones.

Despite missing three games last season with hamstring injuries,

Jones averaged 17.8 yards and scored eight touchdowns on 54


Through as many games this year – 13 – Jones already has 63

catches for a 15.8 average and seven touchdowns – but the

statistics mean very little to him in the context of his team’s


”It’s never affected me,” Jones said. ”I just go out there

and play. I told you before. I can’t go out there and be Superman,

you know? They traded up to get me and everything because they see

the potential.”

The 23-year-old Jones even decided during the offseason to give

himself a new look, too, cutting off his beloved dreadlocks and

donating the effort to ”Locks of Love,” a national cancer


The haircut, he soon believed, better fit his straight-man

persona. Plus, Jones said he wanted no part of trying to match the

outspoken White, a four-time Pro Bowl selection who rarely lets his

swagger down in conversation.

”What I appreciate about Julio is that he listens and tries to

get better every day,” Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter

said. ”He listens to what (receivers coach) Terry (Robiskie) tells

him, and I think Julio is influenced by Roddy and Matt, two really

good role models that are teammates, and what those guys say to

him. I think Julio has become a much more consistent player

throughout this year. When he’s healthy, he’s a guy that you think

can break the game open at any time.”

Jones appreciates, though, how the fun-loving White showed him

how to succeed on the field without letting the job become


It has helped, too, having 16th-year tight end Tony Gonzalez,

the NFL’s No. 2 career-leaving receiver, as a teammate.

”Maybe on a lot of teams, if you’re the No. 1 guy, you could be

bored with it, you know?” Jones said. ”But here you’ve got all

these guys to keep you up, and they tell you to keep pushing.

Especially coming from a Hall of Fame tight end like Tony – he’s

been in the game so long and he keeps doing it.”

Jones still marvels at how hard the 36-year-old Gonzalez works

in practice.

”It shows you the way not to be bored out there and keep

getting better,” he said. ”Catch balls, catch balls. Muscle


Notes: White and SS William Moore (hamstring) were limited in

participation at practice. Both are listed as questionable along

with DT Jonathan Babineaux (ribs) and WR Harry Douglas (ribs). …

CB Asante Samuel (shoulder), LT Sam Baker (hand) and RG Justin

Blalock (hand) fully participated and are listed as probable.

Follow George Henry at http://www.twitter.com/georgehenryAP

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and