Julio Jones has missed the past two games dealing with a toe injury, but the Atlanta Falcons reportedly have hope he’ll make a successful return in Week 15.
Head coach Dan Quinn told local media that Jones will have a full-speed practice session on Wednesday that could set the stage for increased work as the week progresses. If all goes well, Jones would be available for the team’s game Saturday against the Carolina Panthers.
“We are hopeful for that but it’s going to be a matter of him (responding well) when you get out and run full speed,” Quinn said, per Michael Cunningmahm of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The Falcons have been just fine offensively the past two games without Jones in the lineup. They’ve scored a combined 83 points in blowout wins over NFC doormats the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers. Third-year marvel Taylor Gabriel continues to be a dangerous weapon, and the ground game has come alive in a major way.
But as the Falcons move into the month of January, it’s going to be imperative that Jones be available on the outside if the franchise has any chance of advancing deep into the playoffs. Opposing defenses are going to be much more formidable going forward.
Even missing two games, Jones leads the NFL in receiving yards (1,253). His ability to beat double-coverage on a consistent basis makes him a cornerstone for Atlanta’s offense.
Getting him back now for the final two games is ideal so that Jones and quarterback Matt Ryan can get into a groove heading into the postseason. That said, if there is any hiccup in his recovery this week, Atlanta must not rush him back. Missing him one more week is a small price to pay to have him healthy for the playoffs.