Falcons linebacker Deion Jones is hungry to get after opposing quarterbacks this season after a 2020 campaign offered a great taste of Jones' versatility. He took a massive leap to lead the team in sacks when his number was called; his first season really being asked to attack the passer.
Jones likes applying pressure but remains a team first guy, looking to fill whatever role the team needs him to.
"I love to get after the quarterback," said Jones. "That was something new I got to do, and I loved it, so I'm up for it. Also covering and being active. Whatever I have to do to help the team win."
Jones was seriously active last season, with the stat line to prove it. He had 106 tackles 4.5 sacks, 10 quarterback hits, two interceptions and a forced fumble in 2020, which showcases his diverse. He was effective rushing the passer even without a takedown, earning a 20.5-percent win rate that ranked fourth among linebackers above a certain attempt threshold, per analytics site Pro Football Focus.
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That team first mentality is exactly what helped Jones grow into a true pro during his Falcons tenure. As a student of the game, he was always seeking opportunity to improve as a player.
"This is Year 6, [and] I'm still learning," said Jones. "We're going to see how this year goes. [With] a new defense to learn, and I'm just being a sponge and soaking it all in."
Since his rookie season, Jones has seen the most growth simply in understanding different defenses and how they flow. Mastering a new scheme will be key for Jones, a leader of the defensive unit, under new defensive coordinator Dean Pees. Jones' ability to accelerate that learning process would help invigorate this defense.
"I've played a lot of coverages and different styles of blitzes," said Jones. "Putting it all together and learning the system is almost like rookie year all over again, just with an edge on learning."
When a new coaching staff comes in, some players feel the need to prove themselves. Jones isn't buying into that any of that, knowing that his game and work ethic are stand on their own.
"[I] don't feel like I have anything to prove, just improve," said Jones. "[That happens by] working on my game, all the little stuff, soaking in this defense and figuring out how I can apply."
That's a quote that speaks volumes about Jones as a player. Always looking to get better for himself but more importantly the team. If Jones' growth continues from last season, quarterbacks across the league should be wary when they look across the line and see No. 45 starting back at them, ready to come in hot.
Take a look at the best images of the wide receivers and more during Day 6 of 2021 AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp.
2021 AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp: Dirty Birds Open Practice
WHEN: August 7th
WHERE: Mercedes-Benz Stadium
TIME: 2:00 PM ET
The 2021 AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp: Dirty Birds Open Practice entertainment, including cheerleaders, drumline and Atlanta Falcons Legends, will kick-off when gates open and fans are encouraged to arrive early to enjoy Mercedes-Benz Stadium's award-winning food & beverage experience offering fan-first prices.
Tickets for the open practice at Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be $5 each and all proceeds will go to the Emory Healthcare's research and discovery programs.
Due to the current NFL protocols around COVID-19, there will not be opportunities for player autographs.
Stay tuned here for more information!