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Julio Jones keeps playoffs in mind, limits snaps

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Julio Jones didn't push his injured toe in Saturday's game versus the Panthers. The Atlanta Falcons didn't need him to, handling Carolina 33-16. The receiver was mindful of bigger games coming up on the schedule.

"I was good throughout the whole game, but I was just trying to be careful," Jones said, per ESPN's Vaughn McClure. "I was just in and out, not trying to let that flame up. I wasn't [on a limit]. It was just how I felt. I'm not going to put myself in a situation to hurt the team."

Jones played the fewest snaps in a game he's started this season, seeing 39 of 63 offensive plays. He still ended up leading the Falcons with 60 receiving yards on four catches, as Matt Ryan spread the ball around to 10 different targets for 277 yards and 2 TDs.

Jones said he took himself out of the game several times and it wasn't on the coaches.

"I expected him to come in and come out some, so we were not surprised by that," coach Dan Quinn said. "Just to have him back out, his presence amongst his teammates, he was excited. And you could tell that all the way from the start of the game. It was important for him to learn to work through it, and he did do that. It was awesome to have him back out there."

The question this week is how much Jones will play versus the New Orleans Saints.

Atlanta already clinched the NFC South title, so the receiver could potentially sit or play sparingly and wait for the playoffs. But the Falcons could lock down a playoff bye with a win over their rivals, giving Jones more time to rest the injured foot. Balancing rest this week versus rest in the postseason will be something Quinn, Jones and Kyle Shanahan will have to monitor this week.

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