Atlanta Falcons star receiver Julio Jones left Sunday's 24-9 loss to the New Orleans Saints early in the second quarter due to a hamstring injury, which forced him to miss a majority of the action.
Jones has been dealing with a lingering hamstring injury throughout the season after initially injuring it in Week 1 and then re-aggravating it in Week 2. After the game, interim head coach Raheem Morris said the Falcons expect to have more information on Jones's injury and what his status could be moving forward on Monday.
"Julio, we'll find out what's going on more tomorrow," Morris said. "But, obviously, he was not able to come back in the game because of the hammy. He did it pretty early, and those guys went out there and battled. We've got to see what's going on with Ju Jones."
The Falcons seemed to be setting up well against a Saints defense missing top corner Marshon Lattimore when it was expected Friday that Calvin Ridley would return to the field after missing a game due to a foot injury. While Ridley looked sharp in his return, leading Atlanta with 90 yards on five receptions, the Falcons' receivers were largely held in check by a smothering Saints secondary.
New Orleans finished the game with eight sacks on Matt Ryan, giving it a combined 17 sacks in the previous two games against Atlanta. Morris credited the Saints' secondary for many of those sacks, explaining that there weren't many options coming open for Ryan downfield. The absence of Jones, who routinely draws extra attention, only aided the Saints in slowing down the Falcons' pass attack.
"It's just like any other great player," Morris said. "When they leave, at those moments, somebody has got to step up. Next-man-up mentality, and we've got to be able to do those things quicker, faster and more deliberately while we're in the game so we can go in and get a win."
Without Jones for much of the game, the Falcons had their worst offensive performance of the season. Their nine points and 248 total yards are both season-low marks, and Atlanta converted just 2-of-14 of its third-down attempts. Ryan completed 19 of his 37 passes for 232 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. Todd Gurley led the Falcons on the ground with eight carries for 26 yards.
Atlanta and New Orleans will square off again in two weeks. Given that he was able to briefly return to the field in the fourth quarter, it's possible that Jones is closer to full speed when the Saints go to Mercedes-Benz Stadium for a rematch with the Falcons. If that's the case, Jones's value should be on full display, but it won't change the Falcons' offensive struggles on Sunday.
"It's always tough anytime he goes down, because it's hard to replace that production," Ryan said. "It also changes how teams defend us, but it's not an excuse. We've got to find a way with the guys we have out there to be better off. That's going to take all of the guys on our offense - 22, 23 guys deep - we've got to find a way to be productive."
Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints with top photos from Week 11