FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today's Early Bird Report includes Matt Ryan's comments on having Julio Jones healthy for offseason workouts and an update on Andrew Luck's rehab.
FALCONS HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
*AJC: *Ryan excited about Julio Jones practicing this offseason
One underrated aspect of the current state of the Falcons as they prepare to begin offseason workouts next week is health. Last year, there were a few high-profile players who missed time prior to the start of the season while recovering from injury, including star receiver Julio Jones.
As of now, that doesn't look to be the case this year, which should allow the team to immediately begin building chemistry for the 2018 season. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan spoke about the importance of having a player like Jones back and ready to go for offseason workouts.
"It's huge when you get any player to be able to participate fully," Ryan said prior to the start of his annual golf tournament at TPC Sugarloaf on Monday, per D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "That's critical. But you never know, the offseason and seasons are different every year. I think he came through the year, but I don't want to speak for him, but he came through the year fairly healthy."
Ryan and Jones form one of the best quarterback-receiver duos in the NFL. In the past two seasons, alone, they've connected on 170 passes for 2,802 yards and eight touchdowns. Ryan also caught wind of Jones reaching out to a former receiver who was also a physical specimen during his time in the NFL, Hall of Famer Terrell Owens.
"T.O. is one of the best workers of all time," Ryan said, according to Ledbetter. "He learned from Jerry Rice and kind of modeled his stuff after that. I think the more you surround yourself with guys with a work ethic like that it's a good thing. Julio has a great work ethic, too. He's one of the best conditioned and best working athletes that I've ever been around."
Here are more articles for Falcons fans:
BIGGEST NEWS FROM AROUND THE NFL
NFL.com: Andrew Luck hasn't thrown 'The Duke' during rehab
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck continues to rehab an injury to his throwing arm, which cost him the entire 2017 season, and he's taking things very slowly. While he has begun to throw again, Luck has not yet resumed throwing the NFL's official football, according to NFL.com's Chris Wesseling.
Luck is wary of moving too fast in his rehabilitation, which appears to be the reason he's yet to pick up "The Duke" – the name of the league's official football.
"I'm not a perfect-feeling athlete right now," Luck said, according to Wesseling. "... One thing I picked up upon myself is that I'm quite impatient as a person. It has gotten into places -- looking back at the rehab -- that maybe I shouldn't have been in, in the first place.
"I don't want to repeat those missteps. I cannot miss steps. I very, very strongly believe in that. Some things just take time and I've learned that. When I do get the urge to do something a little silly, I talk to myself and say it's not worth it right now."
Here are some more articles from around the league:
- ESPN: How Garoppolo changed the 49ers' plan to pursue Cousins
- CBS Sports: Ray Lewis goes on a wild rant about Odell Beckham
- *Sports Illustrated: *The NFL's wide receiver crisis