Julio Jones drawing raves at Atlanta Falcons camp


Deferring to a more experienced teammate, Julio Jones conceded to Deion Sanders on NFL Network's "Inside Training Camp Live" on Tuesday that Roddy White is the Atlanta Falcons' No. 1 receiver.

If the buzz out of Falcons camp is an indication, that won't be the case much longer.

Stationed at Flowery Branch, NFL.com's Ian Rapoport notes that Jones' improved route running is drawing the biggest raves early in training camp. The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder is running patterns like he's less than six feet tall, with improved body control.

Quarterback Matt Ryan noted as much over the weekend, suggesting that Jones finally has mastered the finer points of playing wide receiver at the game's highest level.

"Man, he just continues to get better," Ryan said, via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "He's coming into his third year. I think he's really starting to come into his own in terms of his confidence and understanding what we are doing offensively."

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Jones has been toying with Falcons cornerbacks, leading national and local observers to conclude that he's the most impressive player in camp.

"He looks stronger at the ball," coach Mike Smith told Rapoport, "and to me, there's going to be so many tightly thrown balls, the coverage is such where you gotta be strong at the ball. That's something where that stood out to me."

On the heels of Jones' dominant 11/182/2 performance in the NFC Championship Game, most analysts believe he's already the top threat in the Falcons' offense. One went as far as declaring him the NFL's premier wide receiver over Calvin Johnson.

I'm sticking with my offseason prediction that Jones is poised to go on a half-decade run straight out of Terrell Owens' prime as the league's most physical wideout. Like Owens once did, Jones boasts an uncanny blend of speed, power and agility capable of taking any catch to the house.

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