It’s only been one preseason game, but Atlanta Falcons‘ wide receiver Julio Jones showed, in just one quarter of football against one of the best defenses in the league, why the Falcons took the gamble of trading away a bounty of draft choices to get him in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Jones was targeted seven times, hauling in six receptions for 109 yards and one touchdown, averaging 18.2 yards per catch against the Baltimore Ravens in Atlanta’s first preseason game. That’s more than some team’s top receivers manage in an entire game.
And it wasn’t just the numbers that were so impressive. Jones was making the Ravens’ defenders look like they were running with suction cups on their shoes. It wasn’t even close in most cases, and he wasn’t doing this against inexperienced rookies, or walk-ons who were trying to make the team. Julio was torching some of the league’s top defenders and leaving them to choke on his dust.
On his first three catches, Jones burned, Cary Williams, Ladarius Webb, and Bernard Pollard. Then he hauled in a touchdown catch on a beautiful touch pass from quarterback Matt Ryan, despite illegal contact coming from Webb. All that on Atlanta’s first drive of the game.
His route running was crisp, and his cuts were perfectly executed. Julio looked unstoppable. He had three grabs of over 25 yards, one of them being a 36-yard catch where he again left Ladarius Webb looking for his jock on the turf.
Falcons’ head coach Mike Smith spoke about his star receiver after the game.
“Julio continues to progress like he did last year,” Smith said in a post-game press conference. “I think he made some real strong catches. That was a great catch there in the end zone. He went over 100 yards in the short time that he was playing out there.”
If this is a preview of the Julio Jones we are to see in 2012, then defensive backs and safeties that are on Atlanta’s schedule this year are in for some long days indeed.
Prepare yourselves folks, because I think Julio Jones is about to be unleashed, and it’s going to be quite a sight to behold.