The Falcons began the third week of OTAs on Tuesday. Take a look at these pictures of the guys at the Branch.
It's been eight months since Matt Ryan and Julio Jones have made an on-field connection. The Oct. 7, 2013 home game against the Jets was the last time heard of or saw a Ryan pass find its way into the capable hands of Jones downfield.
During that time that Jones has been recovering from a foot injury and subsequent surgery, the two have been limited in what they can do to continue to grow their connection as quarterback and wide receiver. Not the types to waste time or make excuses, the two have come together to focus on the only thing they've been able to since Jones injury: their off-field connection.
Ryan and Jones are separated by a sideline while they're on the practice fields at team headquarters in Flowery Branch as the Falcons wrap up OTAs this week, but the meeting and film rooms have brought them together as they scour hours of game and practice film, look over and study the playbook, and work to understand and rediscover each other's on-field tendencies.
"Julio's been in this building pretty much every day this offseason and, while he hasn't been able to be out on the practice field with us yet, we've communicated a lot," Ryan said Tuesday. "We've talked a lot — certainly, (we) have watched film together and tried to work on things in the classroom so that, when we do get the opportunity to be out on the field, we can hit the ground running."
That time inside Falcons headquarters, Ryan said, is what leads him to think that any rhythm that's been lost by being off the same field for nearly a year will quickly return once Jones returns to practice.
Jones has been kept off the field throughout OTAs, relegated to the role of spectator while his team continues the offensive installation for 2014, but he's been stretching, running, making cuts and even working on his hands during time spent with the Athletic Performance team. The physical part is coming along, but the work he's put in with Ryan in the classroom has been what Ryan hopes will speed up that re-adjustment process once training camp comes along.
"I certainly think, when he gets back, whenever that is, as we get closer to training camp, we're going to have plenty of time to gel up and make sure that we're on the same page," Ryan said.