This week's Falcons minicamp is the first football activity after Julio Jones was traded to Tennessee. It was a formal turning of the page following Sunday's transaction and weeks of speculation that preceded it, with a complete focus on football and the roster as it stands.
Head coach Arthur Smith addressed the prospect of moving on without Jones during Tuesday’s pre-practice press conference, the first time he had spoken publicly since the trade.
"We have a whole lot of respect and appreciation for what he did here," Smith said. "Wish him well in Tennessee, but my main concern is our roster and getting us ready to go for this fall. As for any player, you have to have contingency plans – where your depth chart is at, where's your swing tackle – so, you're constantly looking at the roster. You have a plan of what you think it looks like, but like all of us know here is there is a 100 percent injury rate in the NFL and you have to be able to adapt.
"We're constantly evaluating the personnel groupings we have out there and there should be good competition and really great opportunities for every guy on this roster."
The Falcons have strong depth and talent at the receiver spot in addition to some versatile tight ends, and Smith has homed on those options over Jones, who wasn't present for offseason program sessions that occurred while he was still a member of the Falcons.
"My concern is the guys we have on this roster," Smith said. "I've dealt with a lot of different situations week-to-week in my experience in Tennessee. It doesn't matter, they're going to roll the ball out there, we're going to kick off, there's going to be a game to play. Our objective is to go win. No different than when you're dealing with the COVID issue last year with Buffalo. We had four wideouts out that game. My job as a coach is to get us prepared to play and we'll do whatever we have to do to win that game. That's kind of how I look at it, and I don't worry about players I've never coached."
After a few more Jones-adjacent questions and queries on other topics, Smith's press availability concluded and he headed out to develop his squad down the offseason program's home stretch with the page officially turned.