Falcons' Jones focused on new offense, not contract talks
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) Julio Jones is learning there are more ways to go about his job in the Atlanta Falcons' new offense.
The two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver believes the way to do that is to show up for work every day, even though he is looking for a new contract.
Jones said Wednesday that he will not hold out like fellow NFL wideouts Dez Bryant and DeMaryius Thomas. That's not just because new Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan may ask Jones to play every receiver spot, Jones also has other reasons.
''No. I want to win,'' he said when asked if he considered skipping the mandatory mini-camp, like Bryant and Thomas in Dallas and Denver. ''If I'm not here, I'm not helping my teammates; I'm being selfish. I don't know what Dez is doing.
''I just want to be here, be the best teammate I can be and lead by example.''
The Falcons picked up the fifth-year option of Jones' rookie contract, and he'll earn $10.2 million in 2015 if the team and his agent, Jimmy Sexton, don't reach consensus. That would be the wide receiver's salary cap charge, nearly doubling last year's cap hit of $5.2 million. The Falcons, however, are not in cap trouble.
Tying up Jones, 26, looks like good business. He pulled in a career-high 104 passes for a franchise-record 1,593 yards in 15 games last season, and team officials have said they want him around for more than one more year.
''We're obviously keyed up about working on Julio and having him here for a long, long time,'' general manager Thomas Dimitroff recently said at a function for season ticket holders. ''He's an incredibly important part to this offense.''
Jones' combination of size (6-foot-3, 220 pounds), speed and athleticism are obvious, never more than when he caught 11 passes for 259 yards at Green Bay.
Beyond his production - he has 278 receptions, 4,330 receiving yards and 26 touchdowns in 49 games - the Falcons value the intangibles that Jones also brings to the team.
''Absolutely one of the best competitors that I've ever had the privilege to be around,'' said head coach Dan Quinn. ''I love his attitude and the approach he brings to our team. He's a great teammate . . . He's somebody we all count on. His toughness, his leadership, his intensity - every day it's that way.''
Bryant and Thomas are skipping mini camps after their teams placed the franchise tag on them, pegging them to one-year salaries of $12.82 million if they don't have new deals done by July 15.
Jones isn't making any comments to suggest he's concerned about the pace of his contract talks. He's more concerned with learning Shanahan's system.
''I'm every position now, the `L,' the `Z,' the `Y.' Every formation, (I've) got to know everything,'' he said. ''Kyle makes everything look the same. You don't know what we're doing; we've got several routes off the same stem.
''The only thing I can do as a player is come out here and compete, try to get better. That's on my agent, Thomas and the Falcons. I want to be here for a long time, but it's on them to make that decision. I don't know'' if a deal is imminent.
Notes: Offensive tackle Lamar Holmes suffered a broken foot Tuesday in the first practice of mini-camp. ''I don't know the prognosis of when he'll be back,'' Quinn said. The Falcons released former starting tackle Sam Baker on Monday. .... Wide receiver Roddy White was held out of action for the second straight day in order to prevent an undisclosed injury from ''flaring up,'' Quinn explained. ... Rookie safety Robenson Therezie suffered a left ankle injury in practice, and did not return.
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