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Julio Benefits From Full Off Season -Ajc

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FLOWERY BRANCH — Julio Jones is fast

The Falcons receiver said his speed might have presented a problem last season, believe it or not. Consider that Jones didn’t have the benefit of a normal NFL offseason, with minicamps and organized team activities, after the Falcons traded up to select him sixth overall in 2011.

Fresh out of the University of Alabama, Jones had only informal workouts at a local high school with quarterback Matt Ryan and the rest of the Falcons’ offense as the league went through a prolonged lockout. When the labor strife was finally settled at the end of July, the preseason started less than three weeks later.

“Last year, they just threw me in the fire and said ‘Matt, throw Julio the ball,’” Jones said after a recent workout. “It was hard to have that timing. I’m a little faster [than other receivers]. Now, just working on that each and every day we’re getting better in the offense.

“We could have gone over whatever we wanted to go over, but if we are not coming out here practicing and seeing it and going against defenses, it’s night and day.”

Despite the limited time to learn the Falcons’ offense and develop chemistry with Ryan, Jones put up impressive numbers in his rookie season. He played in 13 games, missing three with a hamstring injury, and led all rookies with eight touchdowns. He was second in yards with 959, just 98 yards less than Bengals rookie A.J. Green, and third with 54 receptions.

Jones turned in a time of 4.39 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine before the draft. That speed was one of the attributes that made trading five picks to move up 21 spots in the draft to select Jones a move that Falcons management was willing to make.

With one season behind him, Jones looks forward to a full offseason program. He already has spent time with Ryan working on pass routes, not just from a physical standpoint but also mental standpoint. Jones said he will be aided by knowing the bigger picture of what plays Ryan and the coaching staff are calling, what is expected on each and how different defensive schemes affect the offense.

“Last year, I didn’t have that time with my quarterback, like these OTAs,” Jones said. “In this league, if you are a quarterback you aren’t going to be nothing if you don’t have receivers, and if you are a receiver you’re not going to be nothing if you don’t have a quarterback. So as long as you are on the same page, I feel like we are making big strides.”

Coach Mike Smith said he expects Jones to “get better and better” with the benefit of a full offseason.

The Falcons hired a new offensive coordinator in Dirk Koetter after Mike Mularkey left to become the head coach of the Jaguars. It’s another transition for Jones and the offense. According to players, the new offense does not differ much in terms of verbiage but there are mostly subtle — and one not-so-subtle — differences. Much has been made of the screen game the team plans to use more of this season. How that affects Jones and the vertical passing attack remains to be seen.

Jones said he has not met with Koetter to discuss his specific role in the new offense. “It’s a team game,” Jones said.

Jones’ first-year numbers are impressive as it generally takes receivers three years to hit their stride in the NFL. Jones’ counterpart Roddy White, a three-time Pro Bowler, had only 29 and 30 receptions in his first two seasons. In this third, White jumped to 83 catches and topped that number for the following four seasons.

Jones continued his routine of off-season yoga workouts to get ready for his second year. He expects more production this season.

“My season last year, I could have done better, but as of right now I feel like I’m stronger and faster and [more] intelligent than I was last year,” Jones said

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Very excited about JJ's potential and I agree that he will greatly benefit having OTA's/full TC, but couldn't this be said about any other playerRookie in 2011?

Yeah you could say it about any rookie one being AJ Green. The difference there though I think Green was a better route runner coming out of college do JJ needed to work on that. Also JJ has elite speed unlike Green some the timing would of been harder to adjust to. Green has average speed so easier to adjust to. JJ just said Matt didn't even realize how fast he was.

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Night light my azz, I had my big room light on, and the the hallway light. laugh.png To answer your question , the answer is yes.

Lol. I can't wait for the season to start I really think we will suprise a lot of people even fans with doubts. Is their question marks about the team sure. Like LT, OC, Pass Rush Etc. with all that said I really think we will see the answer. JJ is just one piece that's going to be exciting. Just wait and see.

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I thought he was awesome last season even though I hated the reasoning/sacrifice to get him...just stay healty JJ.

I understand people not liking loosing all the picks, but JJ type players aren't always around and unless we gave up a lot we weren't ever picking that high. We could have kept the picks and got what? Role players, we have enough of thoughts I want game changers.

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