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Saints DB on tracking Julio Jones: 'Just look for No. 11'

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NEW ORLEANS -- Two-time All-Pro Julio Jones certainly has the New Orleans Saints' attention ahead of Sunday's game.

The Atlanta Falcons wide receiver enters Week 3 with 15 catches for 233 yards on 28 targets, which represents the third-highest looks in the league.

While Jones has no touchdowns on the season, second-year free safety Marcus Williams is on full alert and knows Jones must be accounted for on every snap from his vantage points on the back end of coverage.

"He's No. 11," Williams told NFL.com. "That's all you need to know. If he's out there, you have to know where he is. That's not very difficult; just look for No. 11."

Jones hasn't been hard to spot through two games, and Saints All-Pro defensive end Cameron Jordan immediately mentioned the wide receiver when asked what he's seen out of the Falcons' offense so far.

"Julio taking off," Jordan said. "Apparently, he's overly motivated, something about that team throwing money his way. Happy receivers, happy quarterbacks, right? Whatever the saying is."

Jones' Falcons (1-1) and the Saints (1-1) know each other well given their NFC South roots, and Sunday's divisional showdown represents the 98th meeting, with the Falcons holding a 51-46 edge.

The Saints-Falcons rivalry has produced 49 games decided by seven points or less, including one-possession final results in three of the last five games.

"They're a great team," second-year cornerback Marshon Lattimore told NFL.com. "We match up pretty well, and that's why it's always a close game."

Lattimore, the Saints' top cornerback, prepares to enter Round 3 against the Falcons' No. 1 wide receiver. Jones produced 12 catches for 247 yards in two games against the Saints in 2017 while mostly locked up against the then-rookie cornerback, but Lattimore also had some victories in pass coverage.

In the two matchups last year, Lattimore totaled nine tackles, two interceptions and five passes defensed, and Jones didn't score a touchdown in either game as the Saints and Falcons split the annual series.

Lattimore, however, knows to never take anything for granted when it comes to lining up against Jones.

"He's just a great player," Lattimore said. "He does it all. There ain't nothing he does that surprises; you just have to stop it."

Meanwhile, Jones is the top option for quarterback Matt Ryan in the Falcons' aerial show. But there are other weapons the Saints can't ignore, especially when considering New Orleans currently ranks 29th against the pass.

The Falcons have a trio of weapons at the wide receiver position in Jones, Mohamed Sanu and rookie Calvin Ridley, whom Atlanta selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. The Saints also have to deal with dual-threat running back Tevin Coleman and tight end Austin Hooper in addition to Jones.

"We talk about just the tremendous athlete that he is, and then, of course, you add in Mohamed Sanu and eventually they'll probably get the other 'Bama receiver (Ridley) rolling," Jordan said. "They have a high-potency type offense and that's something we have our task on hands."

William echoed Jordan, adding he and his defensive teammates have to focus on preventing big passing plays of 20 or more yards whether it is Jones or others on the receiving end.

"We just got to lock in on their key players," Williams said. "Those explosive plays are pretty much what keep the games close."

The free safety has a point when looking back at the two meetings last year.

Jones hauled in five passes for 98 yards on 11 targets in Week 14, averaging 19.6 yards per catch during the Falcons' 20-17 win. He then produced seven catches for 149 yards (21.2 yards per catch) on 11 targets in Week 16, which produced a Saints' 23-13 victory.

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