Dimitroff: Falcons 'very close' to new deal for Julio Jones; 'excited to see' Matt Bryant kick 


Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said that the team "continues to be very close" on a new contract extension for star receiver Julio Jones on Thursday night.

Speaking to Justin Kutcher and Coy Wire during Atlanta CW's television broadcast of the Falcons-Jaguars game, Dimitroff said that he's confident that the Falcons and Jones are going to get a deal done "in the relatively near future."

"Obviously Julio is a special player for us and, of course, we'd like to have it done as soon as possible," Dimitroff said.


On the hot topic of the Falcons' kicking situation, Dimitroff said that the Falcons had been planning to bring in Matt Bryant but "weren't sure when it was going to happen."

"We planned on it last week, to get him in here and work him out," Dimitroff said. "I know some people didn't think that he should have to work out, but the reality is – and we have a great deal of respect (for him) – but we need to see where he is, you know what type of shape he's in right now."

Bryant, 44, parted ways with the team during the offseason. He had signed with the Falcons prior to the 2009 season and left Atlanta as the leading scorer in franchise history with 1,122 points. His 158 points in 2016 is a Falcons single-season record.

"We're excited to see him move the ball (Friday) afternoon," Dimitroff said. "Just really excited to see him kick the ball."

The reason why the Falcons are bringing Bryant in for a tryout and signed Blair Walsh on Saturday is because of Giorgio Tavecchio’s recent struggles. Despite a perfect showing while filling in for Bryant during the 2018 season – he was 5-for-5 on field goals attempts and 8-for-8 on extra points – Tavecchio has struggled this preseason.

On Thursday night against the Jaguars, Tavecchio was 3-for-3 on extra-point attempts, but missed his lone field goal attempt, a 53-yarder in the second quarter. The miss was Tavecchio's third-straight, and his fourth in his last five attempts.


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Rookie draft picks catch Dimitroff's attention

Running back Qadree Ollison had a big night, running for 51 yards on 14 carries, including a 9-yard touchdown run. Dimitroff said he's liked what he's seen from the rookie out of Pittsburgh.

"He's had a really interesting preseason," Dimitroff said. "We really like how he's evolved very quickly. He's gained more and more confidence. Again, I can't say enough how important it is to have a 6-1, 230-pound guy in the mix. It's really important. I think he can continue to bang. He has the versatility to play fullback as well."

First-round pick Kaleb McGary also had a big night, making his first appearance in a Falcons uniform after being cleared to play since undergoing a cardiac ablation procedure in training camp. McGary made a number of key blocks and didn't give up any sacks while in the game.

"I'm so excited for him to get back on the field this week," Dimitroff said of McGary. "He was excited. It was tough for him, right, the way everything went down. He looked like he was moving well, pulling well, he was throwing his body around I think we have a good assessment on him so far."

McGary was selected with the 31st-overall pick in this year's draft and was primarily working with the second-team unit prior to undergoing surgery. The 6-foot-6, 306-pound rookie is certainly back in the mix now for the starting right tackle.

Ty Sambrailo was the starting right tackle for the first three preseason games. A shoulder injury sidelined him against the Washington Redskins. Second-year player Matt Gono got the start at right tackle In Sambrailo's absence and played well.

Photos from the field as the Atlanta Falcons face the Jacksonville Jaguars in the preseason finale.

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