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Julio Jones leaves with hip injury after career night

Julio Jones put together the best game of his career last week while covered by Patrick Peterson. And then he topped himself on Monday Night Football.

Jones finished Monday night's game with 11 catches, 259 yards and a touchdown before leaving with a hip injury late in the fourth quarter. Jones took an awkward shot on a catch in the red zone and never returned. Jones tried to get the injury loose on the sideline, but the Falcons shut him down for the night even though they were driving for their final touchdown of a 43-37 loss.

Falcons coach Mike Smith said Tuesday that Jones has a sore hip, and the team is hopeful he'll play Sunday against Pittsburgh. But he didn't sound too concerned after the game while waxing philosophic about his dominant receiver.

"When Julio is healthy and he and Matt (Ryan) are in tune with one another they're as good as any in the NFL, and he (Jones) is as good as any in the NFL," coach Mike Smith said.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after the game that defending Jones was the focus of the team all week. It didn't matter. Jones' combination of size, physicality and speed rivals any receiver in the league. He is a wizard at coming down with contested catches, and can take any pass the distance. He lines up all over the field. His yards after the catch Monday night were immense. The only surprise is when Jones gets tackled, like he did during a 79-yard grab Monday.

Jones now has 458 yards with 21 catches over the last two weeks. I thought his dominant performance against Peterson last week was one of the best games I've ever seen by a wide receiver because of the difficulty of his receptions. How good is Jones? You could argue that a 259-yard effort wasn't even his best game of his last two. In a season highlighted at wide receiver by Jordy Nelson, Antonio Brown, and Demaryius Thomas, Jones is reminding everyone that he belongs in any conversation about the best receiver in football.

The Falcons -- and Jones' fantasy owners -- just hope he's healthy enough to play next week.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps every Sunday game from Week 14 and discusses the Seahawks' return to Super Bowl form. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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