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 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
”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.
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