FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – When tight end Austin Hooper first arrived at the Falcons' facility for the back in 2016 he knew two things: He would be catching passes from a top-tier NFL quarterback in Matt Ryan and he would become teammates with one of, if not the best, best wide receivers in the game in Julio Jones.
Jones is about as consistent as they come at the receiver position. If he's not leading the league in receiving yards which he has done twice in his career (2015 and 2018), he's not far behind. When you see a player put up numbers like Jones does or make the type of plays he does, it's easy to overlook Jones' greatness at times.
"It's hard, man, because after a while you become so desensitized to it," Hooper said of Jones while describing a play from his rookie season during a recent podcast with Bleacher Report's Adam Lefkoe.
"My rookie year he ran this thing called a takeoff," Hooper said. "So, you run a 20-yard comeback, it's a double move though so you come back and show your hips and eyes and then turn around and immediately sprint. It's hard to go from fully stopped to full speed that quickly. I saw him run 21 mph and take three steps to stop, which is incredible in itself. [He] turns around and gets a defensive back coming down hill [with his] eyes looking to jump the comeback. He turns around and puts his right foot in the ground, puts his head down and runs. He takes a peek [and] he sees the ball thrown far. [He] puts his head back down, lets the run get back in full phase and then picks his head up and it's right there. In that moment I was like, that is Julio Jones."
Jones wasn't the only topic Hooper and Lefkoe discussed. Atlanta's tight end also talked about how he's grown from his rookie season, how much respect he has for his former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and where he'll be spending his offseason. To listen to the full podcast, click here