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Falcons rookie Deion Jones raises his play and now his voice, too

Goober Pyle

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"Alert. Alert. Back up. Back up."

When Deion Jones says those words these days, he shouts them with much more authority. The Atlanta Falcons rookie middle linebacker’s voice is a lot louder now, a product of him settling into his role as the primary on-field conductor of the defense.

At the beginning of the season, it was almost as if he was whispering at the opera.

"At a practice, I remember Grady [Jarrett], when we had to line some stuff up, him saying, 'Hey, I couldn’t hear you,' Jones recalled. "Or if somebody got beat on something, I’d be like, 'Man, I could have said something to alert him that was coming.'

"I could say it was the immaturity. I could say it was me not knowing [the defense] better. I could say it was a learning experience. But I realize speaking up, that’s what it takes to be an [NFL] linebacker. In college, we talked, but it wasn’t like that. I realize it’s a game of chess now. It’s a thinking-man’s game."

Jones' difference-making speed and athleticism have been evident from Day 1, which is why he was the NFC’s Defensive Rookie of the Month to start the season and why he has two pick-sixes to his credit. His vocal maturity is an element that could elevate the defense to another level as the 9-5 Falcons prepare for the playoffs.

"I’ve been very impressed over the last few weeks with Deion Jones," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. "I felt his presence at practice where he found his voice, so to speak; a voice where you can get information out to other guys."

Jones, who has endured the expected growing pains of a first-year player, said his change of tone began immediately after the bye week. It was the same time he came off a poor individual performance in a 24-15 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

"I watched film during the bye week and I felt like there were a lot of things I could have said better," Jones said. "Like alerting on certain routes. That’s what the whole week was for, just locking in and seeing how I could get better for the next stretch."

Jones leaned on lessons learned from teammates Sean Weatherspoon and Paul Worrilow. Weatherspoon, who suffered a season-ending Achilles tear, is naturally loud and carries his booming voice onto the field. And Worrilow, the guy Jones supplanted as the starting middle linebacker, has a great understanding of the defense and a better method of communicating it.

"I remember Spoon, when he was in and how he was," Jones said, "and I thought back to it and said, 'Man, that helped us play a lot faster.' Yeah, he’s loud in general.

"After that, I was thinking about hearing Worrilow in practice during OTAs and camp. I knew I could take my game to the next level doing it like that. I’ve just kind of locked in and said, 'I don’t care what it is, just make sure everybody is on the same page and yell it out. Don’t keep it a secret.'"

His teammates have noticed the drastic change.

"He’s confident now," free safety Ricardo Allen said. "He’s going out there and he’s able to set the defensive line faster. Even if they see things a different way, they’re listening to him now because they know he’s the middle linebacker, he’s the leader of this defense, and he's played well enough to have that voice now.

"He’s good enough to know now that if it comes to the huddle and we don’t have a call, he’s going to make the call. He’s comfortable enough now to know, 'If I say something, I don’t always have to go textbook. When I say something, it’s going to go, and everybody else is going to spin around me.' Confidence comes with good play."

And Jones has been quite the player. Now he’s got a voice to go with it.

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1 hour ago, kiwifalcon said:

The rookies are growing up man.


The additions of Spoon and Freeney although on the field hasn't really shown up but man theyre showing these young thunder cats how it's done. 


Imagine if hes able to get in the offseason studying with Kwon, Sean Lee, and Luke  


for those unfamiliar 


Edited by ICD
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18 minutes ago, blackredfellow said:

HeII yea Debo. I think we got a bonafide stud at MLB folks. If we have another draft like '14/'15, we're gonna go from real bad to reeeeal good right quick. This D just feels like it's just right up on the edge of the corner, waiting to turn.

If Hageman ever steps up at DT we would already be there.

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1 hour ago, Vandy said:

If Hageman ever steps up at DT we would already be there.

We're d@mn close. Agree with Hags. He has the talent to be a Donald type beast. Imagine that next to Grady. We do need another pass rusher though, and I hope we draft one in the first round. We could use another LB, and I wouldn't mind trying to upgrade FS, but we are getting there quickly!

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