Falcons two-time All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones
is one catch away from passing Terance Mathis for second place on the franchise's all-time receptions list.
Jones, who was drafted with the sixth overall pick in 2011, has 573 catches. Mathis had 573 receptions over eight seasons (1994-2001) with the Falcons.
is the franchise's all-time leading receiver with 808 catches, 10,863 yards and 63 touchdowns.
Jones has 8,771 yards and 43 touchdowns.
Jones was named to the Pro Bowl this past week for the fifth time in his seven-year career, including four consecutive honors. The wide receiver is third in the league in receiving yards at 1,215. His total includes a 253-yard game in Week 11 against the Buccaneers. It was the third 250-plus yard game of his career, the most in NFL history.
Jones also broke NFL records with the most catches (563) and receiving yards (8,649) in his first 90 games.
Jones has three 100-yard games this season, bringing his career total to 38.
So Jones is great.
He's also a little les consistent than we'd all like.
In fact, since that 12-catch, 253-yard, two-touchdown explosion against Tampa Bay early last month, Jones has caught just 10 passes on 25 targets for 176 yards and no touchdowns in the subsequent three games.
The good news?
Jones (thumb/ankle), Tevin Coleman
(concussion) and Mohamed Sanu
(knee) were all removed from Friday's final injury report.
Jones returned to practice Friday and showed enough for head coach Dan Quinn
to be optimistic.
“His explosion, even if it wasn’t at ‘Julio explosiveness’ would pretty much be world class
in a lot of ways,” Quinn said, via Vaughn McClure of ESPN. “He looked good. ... We really try to watch his gait and see, `Is he limited in any way?’ He looked really strong in that. If you have the strength, generally, you can really trust it to put your foot in the ground and be aggressive and go. That’s usually what I look for.
“On days like [Friday], when I don’t see any hesitation and real trust, then I know he’s worked hard to get the strength back.”
In the previous meeting with the Saints Jones caught five passes on 11 targets for 98 yards.
In addition, Sanu had one of his more productive games of the season in the first game against the Saints, matching a season-high six catches and scoring a touchdown. As always, Sanu benefits from Jones drawing a great deal of attention, creating an opportunity for Sanu to have success similar to what he had in the first meeting.
Finally. ... Asked why Austin Hooper
's targets been so inconsistent and what should we expect from him against New Orleans, ESPN.com's Vaughn McClure offered a pretty pointed answer.
According to McClure, there have been a couple times where Hooper hasn't been strong to the ball, including a drop that led to an interception in the first game with New Orleans.
But the Falcons haven't lost faith in him. "I think Hoop's done a nice job for us," quarterback Matt Ryan
said. "He's had some weeks where he's kind of popped up and made a number of plays for us. And some other weeks, it's been quiet. But that's kind of how the offense goes. We have so many different pieces to it."
Still, Hooper hasn't had a red zone target in the last five games despite running nine red zone routes.