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Unselfish Julio Jones wants to make sure others are playoff-ready

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10:11 AM ET
  • mcclure_vaughn_m.jpg&w=160&h=160&scale=c
    Vaughn McClure
  • ESPN Staff Writer


Wide receiver Julio Jones wants the Atlanta Falcons to keep spreading the ball around, and there’s a good reason behind his line of thinking.

Jones is going to have an impact on any game, whether it means 200-plus receiving yards, drawing a couple pass-interference penalties or even opening up running lanes by blocking down the field. But Jones sees getting his less-experienced teammates more involved as imperative at this juncture of the season, with the 7-4, NFC South-leading Falcons on track for the playoffs.

"Nah, I don’t care about touches. I’m great,” Jones said coming off a four-catch, 35-yard game in a 38-19 win over Arizona. “It’s great because other guys are stepping up and making it happen. You can’t expect those guys to do it -- let’s say you get to the playoffs, playoff run, whatever -- you can’t expect those guys, 'Oh, I want these guys to step up now and make these plays.’ That’s why you have to get them involved now throughout the year and let them build their confidence up as well to say, 'We’re going to make these plays. We can all make these plays.’"

Jones’ point is well-taken. Although the Falcons have missed the playoffs the last three seasons, Jones has played in three career postseason games, including the NFC Championship after the 2012 season. Guys around him such as Justin Hardy, speedy Taylor Gabriel and the tight end trio of Austin Hooper, Levine Toilolo, and Joshua Perkins haven’t played in a postseason game. Neither have Devonta Freeman or Tevin Coleman, two threats out of the backfield as pass-catchers.


Right now, 10 Falcons have eight or more catches from quarterback Matt Ryan this season, led by Jones’ 65 catches and league-leading 1,140 receiving yards. Eleven Falcons have touchdown receptions, including eight with multiple touchdowns.

The Falcons actually are 4-0 this season with Jones has 35 or fewer receiving yards, emphasizing just how much of a team effort it has been.

“Everybody is just playing great ball,” Jones said. “Everybody is on the same page. Kyle [Shanahan] is on the same page. He’s staying aggressive and allowing us to go out there and make plays. The offensive line is doing a great job. Matt is throwing the ball well, spreading the ball around. Different guys are scoring week in and week out. Everybody is just doing their thing. And this is the way we’ve got to be. We’ve got to stay fresh and let everybody have their chance week in and week out.

“I make those plays, but I love it when other guys step up and make those plays and we’re spreading the ball around. That’s when we’re jelling together, when we have confidence in everybody to step up and make that play in that situation.”

Jones' selfless attitude hasn’t gone unnoticed by his teammates.

“It's huge when your leaders and your best players are guys that are unselfish and want to win," quarterback Matt Ryan said of Jones on 680 The Fan. “That trickles down to the rest of the team. And there's no better example of that for us than Julio. He is about winning games and doing everything that he can to help us win games."

Said wide receiver Hardy, who had a spectacular, 27-yard catch last Sunday, “Julio being the guy he is, the attention he gets on game day, it’s great for that guy to want to throw the assist to his other receivers.

"Being able to play with the best player in the league and being able to just be a sponge around him, and just taking his advice and carrying it over to practice and game day, it means a lot.”




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2 hours ago, birdz4i said:

"Nah, I don’t care about touches. I’m great,” Jones said coming off a four-catch, 35-yard game in a 38-19 win over Arizona.

This quote (If true.) reminds me of the time that Julio stated matter of factly to a reporter's  question about him making spectacular catches when he wasn't really open. His statement was: "I am always open".  Again, if true.

Gotta love it.

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