Falcons QBs might hold class for rookie WR
Quote: Falcons QBs might hold class for rookie WR
Falcons’ first-round draft pick Julio Jones tweeted Thursday he was in California, so even though he was medically cleared earlier in the week to run following offseason foot surgery — Jones tweeted that also — he has yet to participate in informal player-run workouts held over the past two weeks.
Earlier in the week, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said he expected if Jones, a wide receiver selected sixth overall out of Alabama, did not make it this week, he likely would take part in the workouts next week.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Ryan and No. 3 quarterback John Parker Wilson — who played at Alabama with Jones for one season — are among the first to arrive at the sessions. Among their conversations Thursday was the idea they might have to conduct coaching staff-style meetings with Jones to teach him the offense and prepare him for the coming season if the NFL lockout continues to go on indefinitely, as it currently seems as if it will. Wilson and Ryan already have worked out once at a gym with Jones since the Falcons picked him exactly three weeks ago Thursday.
“I’m sure that’s going to go on,” Wilson said of potential classroom-style meetings with Jones. “The longer this thing goes on, if he wants to come and play, it’s going to have to happen because what if, hypothetically, if we start two weeks before the season starts? He’s not going to be able to learn the offense in two weeks and play fast without having to think about it.
“When you go out there and play, you want to be able to just react and not think.
“That will have to happen. It’s going to be talked about.”
Even though Ryan turned just 26 two days ago, he is the unquestioned leader of the offense. It’s evident in the way these informal sessions have been run that he is the most authoritative voice and runs them.
In some ways — depending on how long the lockout lasts — the teams that could be the most prepared for the coming season could be the ones that have players, quarterbacks in particular, who take charge and actually accomplish something during the offseason. In Ryan, the Falcons have one of the league’s better prepared quarterbacks and hardest workers, which could give them an advantage, especially when trying to break in a highly prized rookie like Jones.
The Falcons, after all, traded a total of five picks to move up 21 spots and get that No. 6 pick from Cleveland to be able to draft him. Paired with Roddy White, Jones is supposed to provide the Falcons’ offense with an explosiveness it has previously lacked — and which general manager Thomas Dimitroff hopes pushes them beyond being a playoff qualifier that loses its first postseason game.
In Wilson, the Falcons might have a player who could translate the offense to Jones in terms of what they both did together at Alabama.
“We were talking about it today,” Wilson said of a conversation with Ryan. “We’re going to have to go in and teach him like we’d be the coaches teaching him. With no playbooks, it makes it even tougher, so we’re going to have to draw up stuff and try to teach him that way. Because right now, we’d be in meetings and he’d be able to be learning it. So to try to get ahead of the pace that way, just doing what we can with no materials and working out that way.”
On the day after the draft’s first round, when the Falcons introduced Jones at their headquarters, head coach Mike Smith described him as having a high football IQ and capable of making such a quick transition.
Wilson talked Thursday about playing with Jones when Jones was a freshman and Wilson was a senior on the Crimson Tide’s 2008 team that was ranked No. 2 when it lost to No. 1 Florida, the eventual national champion, in the Southeastern Conference Championship. Jones set every freshman receiving record in school history during that ’08 campaign.
“You know, he came in — he was a big recruit coming out of high school; he was one of those, I don’t know what they call them, five-stars — came in and had all these accolades from high school and all these things, but you never would’ve known it,” Wilson said. “When he got there, he came in, worked hard. He didn’t walk around like he owned the place. He just wanted to work for his position, and he worked hard and ended up catching a bunch of balls his freshman year.”
Wilson was asked if any particular play Jones made stood out from that season.
“He made a lot,” Wilson said. “We threw it to him a ton. We asked him to do a lot as a freshman and he did it, whether it was stretching the field. He ran good routes as a freshman. The deep in cut or running an out cut — anything. He just seemed to pick it up pretty well, and we used him a lot.”
In his comments about Jones, Dimitroff compared the player physically to former University of Georgia receiver A.J. Green, selected fourth overall in the draft. Jones is slightly shorter at 6-foot-2½ but more solid at 220 pounds.
“Extremely solid,” Wilson said. “He has shredded muscles. I worked out the other day with him and just he’s a beast. He works hard on the field and in the weight room. He takes care of his body, and I think he’ll be durable for it because he works out so hard off the field.”
Last week, Jones spent some time in Tuscaloosa, Ala., home of the university, helping victims hard hit by the tornadoes that devastated the community just before the draft. Wilson said he has yet to visit but plans to do so this weekend. He went to high school in suburban Birmingham, also hit hard by the tornadoes, but said most of his immediate family and friends went unscathed.
“Luckily, they were OK, but everybody they know and a bunch of people that went to school there or what-not, had everything just gone,” he said. “. . . It’s going to take a long time to rebuild. I think a bunch of people are helping out and it needs to continue.”
Here is Julio Jones on the NFL Networks....He confirm.. He has ran routes with Matt Ryan
Julio Jones on the NFL Network