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Fast Takes From Falcons Practice: Aug. 20

  • Jones Just Fine After Game: Wide receiver Julio Jones slipped out of the locker room after Saturday night's loss to the Texans before the media had a chance to get his reaction to his first game back after last year's foot injury. Jones met with the media after Wednesday's practice and sounded confident in his health as the third preseason game approaches. He said he needs to knock some of the rust off, but being back on the field felt good and there were no lingering ill effects immediately or in the days following the game: "I felt good," Jones said. "No pain. I'm still doing a lot of treatment, still doing my routine of one-day-on, one-day-off. Right now, they're going to increase the workload. I practiced (Wednesday) and then (Thursday), I'm going to practice."

The Falcons players continue to prepare for their game against the Tennessee Titans on Friday with a hot practice before eventually moving indoors as a storm blew in.

  • Jones Eying Red Zone Improvement: The Falcons have made the red zone scoring an emphasis once again and Jones sounded anxious to be able to help the effort out. The Falcons were 22nd in the league in red zone scoring percentage in 2013, a year when Jones spent much of his time on injured reserve. He wants to help turn that around, starting in the preseason: "That's a big emphasis here. We have to score in the red zone. We have too many weapons to get covered up in the red zone," Jones said. "We've got to make those plays, especially if we get one-on-one. We've got to make Matt (Ryan) feel comfortable that we're going to win our one-on-one matchups and he'll throw the ball to the right guy."
  • Jackson Still Set for Week 1 Return: Running back Steven Jackson was shown on Tuesday night's episode of "Hard Knocks" at work as he sets to return from a hamstring injury and head coach Mike Smith said Wednesday that all indications are that he's right on track: "Steven is working and increased his workload with the Athletic Performance people," Smith said. "He's come out and done some workouts with (director of sports medicine and performance) Marty (Lauzon) and his staff. We're encouraged by what he has done on that side with the Athletic Performance group."
  • Motta to Start Season on PUP: Second-year safety Zeke Motta will start the 2014 regular season on the Physically Unable to Perform list, Smith said Wednesday. Motta has been on the camp PUP list all preseason and Smith said the team will have to make a decision on him once the season starts as to whether he'll end up on season-ending injured reserve. Motta is still suffering the ill effects of a neck injury from last season.
  • Squad Changes Mean New Jobs: The NFL announced this week that teams will be able to expand their practice squads from eight to 10 players now, and that's going to change some of what the Falcons do from here on. Smith is excited about the addition of two players to the squad and the new jobs could mean added potential for depth as those lucky two players develop: "For us, it gives us an opportunity to evaluate more players," Smith said. "It's all about development in this league. You're going to have injuries, and when you have two more players on your practice squad, you're going to get the opportunity to be very familiar with (them)."
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