FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – The Falcons are through their first two days of organized team activities, and there has not yet been an appearance by star receiver Julio Jones.
While Jones' absence from OTAs may have surprised some outside of the organization and seem like cause for concern, Falcons head coach Dan Quinn told the media after Tuesday's practice that he has been in touch with his All-Pro receiver and was not caught off guard.
"Julio and I, we speak regularly," Quinn said. "I was fully aware that he wasn't going to be here for the start of the offseason program, and I was also aware that he wasn't going to be here this past Monday. He's in great shape, and he's spending some time this offseason working on some of the things he has not been able to over the last offseason, due to some injuries.
"I do expect him to be here certainly at the minicamp at the end of the offseason program."
Quinn explained that he and Jones had not discussed a detailed timeline and that he doesn't know if his receiver will make an appearance at all before the start of minicamp, but he did reiterate that he would anticipate Jones to be with the Falcons for the start of the team's mandatory minicamp.
Jones caught 88 passes for 1,444 yards and three touchdowns last season, and he is regarded as one of the best receivers in the NFL. A four-time All-Pro, Jones has eclipsed 1,000 yards in every season in which he's played at least 14 games, and he is the only player in NFL history with multiple 250-yard receiving games, adding his third such game in Week 12 last year against the Buccaneers.
It's not uncommon for proven veterans around the league to miss their teams voluntary workouts, and given Jones' track record on and off the field, Quinn and his staff trust him to be ready for when he does meet back up with the team.
"For those of us who know Julio and the teammate that he is, [there is] no disappointment, certainly not on my end," Quinn said of his absence. "I know the work that he's putting in to get ready. I'm very comfortable with that."
Alongside the rumors that Jones would be absent for the start of OTAs was speculation that he was angling for a new or renegotiated deal from the Falcons to match the rising value of wide receiver contracts around the league.
When asked about that particular storyline, Quinn said he felt it was normal for players around the league to re-address the business side of the NFL at this time of year but then asserted that any specifics beyond that may just be speculation. "I think at this time of year, and as business grows around the NFL, I think that's pretty common for a lot of players to discuss that and wonder where that's at," Quinn said. "That's something that he and I discussed together but as far as anything past that, unless you guys have spoken to Julio, individually or specifically, I think past that would be a lot of speculation."