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Arthur Blank plans to make Julio Jones a Falcons 'lifer'

Now that franchise players Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas have set the 2015 market for No. 1 receivers, the Atlanta Falcons are ramping up efforts to sign Julio Jones to a long-term extension.

Owner Arthur Blank emphasized Sunday that the Falcons expect Jones to be "a lifer" in Atlanta.

"We're moving as quickly as we can," Blank said, via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "The player has been fabulous. He came into camp in great shape. He's working all-out. There is no hesitation or question on his part. We are working with a very professional agent, who actually understands the business. He actually handled the last two wide receivers contracts, which helps a good bit."

Blank went on to tell NFL Media's Gil Brandt and Fox Sports' Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL Radio he is "very confident" a deal will get done, using the twin five-year, $70 million Bryant and Thomas deals as templates for Jones.

Despite missing one game last year, Jones still established a franchise record with 1,593 receiving yards. New coordinator Kyle Shanahan has Jones lining up at every receiver spot, which should result in more favorable matchups for a highly explosive player who has found "another gear" after shedding five pounds.

"We view him as one of the top receivers in the NFL and we think that most people do as well," Blank added. "... I think whatever the market is, we look at Julio as certainly being in that class."

If the Falcons have any long-term concerns over Jones' twice-fractured right foot, Blank won't let allow that issue to hold up a contract.

"We've gotten the best medical advice, really in the world," Blank explained. "He's followed their program last year to a tee. This year, he's been able to do more in the offseason and it reflects in how he looks at camp."

To Blank's final point, Jones has made highlight-reel catches look route in training camp.

"I loved Julio coming out of college, I've always known how talented he is," Shanahan recently said. "Just to be around a guy who is as explosive as he is but who can still break down and cut and attack the football and see the ball ... and his toughness. The guy doesn't take a play off. He's physically tough and mentally tough. He's very fun to coach. And he makes you a better coach."

Judging by Blank's comments, Shanahan will be calling plays for his new version of Andre Johnson well into the future.

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