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Smith: Ryan, Jones 'haven't Missed A Beat'

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Julio Jones returned to the practice fields on Tuesday in pads for the first time since 2013, impressing head coach Mike Smith and teammates, like QB Matt Ryan.

Following Tuesday's practice, Falcons head coach Mike Smith took a few minutes to share with me his evaluations of having Jones back on the field in pads.

"I felt like watching Julio and Matt work together, it’s like they hadn’t missed a beat," Smith said. "Julio looks like he’s comfortable out there, getting back into the action. We are having him on a prescription of work one day, off one day, and we’ll make a determination as we get further into training camp, whether that’s going to change or not, but it’s worked well for us up to this point in time and when he and Matt have had an opportunity to get some snaps together, they’ve been productive and efficient."

Shortly after coach Smith finished, his team's QB, Matt Ryan, addressed the media and was also asked about his impressions of No. 11's return.

"It’s obviously great to have him back,” Ryan said. “He’s an unbelievable player, such an incredible talent. I can’t believe he’s in year four, now; he’s so much more mature, has such a better understanding of our offense at this point that he’s teaching a lot of guys that are here. He’s a big help for me in terms of getting some of our new guys on board and up to speed, but watching him out there, he looks great. He looks really healthy and I’ve been really impressed with how he’s come back from the injury."

As for the younger players Ryan referred to, recently-signed WR Jeremy Ebert couldn't speak enough about the leadership role Jones is embracing in 2014.

"He’s been awesome," Ebert said. "He’s a lot of fun to be around, comes to work every day, ready to work, and it’s just been awesome to learn from him."

The team is beyond thrilled with Jones, who worked tirelessly in the offseason (weights, film study and rehab) to return to the field, teamed with players he would help transition into an offense that has the talent to keep the scoreboard operator busy for each of the 16 regular-season games in 2014 and beyond.

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