FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Julio Jones keeps showing up on the Atlanta Falcons’ weekly injury report and he keeps on playing.
The two-time All-Pro receiver missed Thursday’s practice with a sore ankle and was limited Friday. That’s been a steady pattern this season as coach Dan Quinn lets Jones, a seventh-year star, manage his body and decide when it’s time to go full speed.
Jones has told Quinn that he will be in uniform Monday night when the Falcons (5-4) visit Seattle (6-3). He was listed as limited last week with the same injury but played four quarters in Atlanta’s win over Dallas.
“Behind the scenes everybody knows how tough he is,” Quinn said. “He’s able to respond when he does have an injury quicker than most and it’s because of that mental toughness. He just assumes he’ll be back and ready to go.”
Jones missed two games last season with a sprained left toe but still had 83 catches for 1,409 yards and six touchdowns and made his second straight All-Pro team. He had minor foot surgery last March and has broken his right foot twice, at the NFL Combine in 2011 and four years ago when he missed 11 games.
This season it’s been a hip flexor and a back injury. Jones has played with an injured ankle for two weeks, totaling 12 catches for 175 yards over that span.
Most of his numbers are similar to last year’s through nine games, but Jones has just one touchdown catch. That’s not surprising given how Atlanta (5-4) has slipped on offense. The Falcons the NFL in scoring last year but they’re averaging eight points less this season and rank 18th.
Jones had an excruciating drop in the end zone, a rare occurrence, at Carolina two weeks ago but he otherwise hasn’t gotten many chances to score.
“We definitely want it ticked up, that’s for sure,” Quinn said. “When he gets his opportunities, we’ve got to nail ‘em. His explosive plays don’t necessarily start in the red zone. Some of the ones he can score on are at the 25-yard line to the 30. They can extend to touchdown plays as well.”
Jones said he will miss playing opposite Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, who’s out for the season with a ruptured Achilles. The two stars have a longtime rivalry that was sparked when Sherman held Jones’ arm to prevent a late fourth-down catch in the Falcons’ two-point loss last year in Seattle. Atlanta has won three of the last four against the Seahawks, including twice in the playoffs at the Georgia Dome.
Jones believes the biggest problem in Seattle is the noise. The Seahawks have some of the NFL’s loudest fans.
“It’s very different,” Jones said. “The 12th man they have out there – the fans are very loud – but it doesn’t impact me. It’s my job to help others around me to help them make sure it doesn’t affect their game because it can be effective because it is that loud there.”
Notes: LG Andy Levitre was limited in practice Friday with a knee injury. He is expected to play. … DT Grady Jarrett (knee) and DE Takk McKinley (shoulder) were upgraded and fully participated. … LB Duke Riley (knee) and RB Terron Ward (knee) were limited. … The Falcons need Ward in uniform. Starting RB Devonta Freeman is sidelined with a concussion and won’t play. Tevin Coleman is the only running back on the roster besides blocking fullback Derrick Coleman. … P Matt Bosher (left ankle) did not practice.
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