Julio Jones on his health, friendship with Roddy White, Falcons' receivers

Julio Jones returned to the practice fields on Wednesday when the Falcons began preparation for their upcoming matchup with the Carolina Panthers.

Jones missed Atlanta's most recent game against the Saints on Thanksgiving Day due to a shoulder injury.

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"It was very tough, I love to be out there with my brothers," Jones said of missing the game. "I love the game of football. Just how hard we work before Sunday, we get up every day, we meet, we practice and to miss it it's very hard to take but at the same time you have to take care of yourself and be responsible."

Falcons coach Dan Quinn said early in the week Jones is "certainly close" in terms of his status for Sunday's game.

The six-time Pro Bowl wideout has been a limited participant in practice this week.

"I practiced today, it was good," Jones said of his shoulder on Thursday.

Impressed with young receiver corps

With no Jones in the lineup last week, Matt Ryan had to rely heavily on his young receivers to carry the weight. Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage and Christian Blake caught 19 passes for 200 yards in the 26-18 loss to New Orleans.

Jones was proud of what he saw from the guys he's been mentoring all year.

"Just being a dog, the competitiveness of them," Jones said. "No play was too big for them, that's a big game to play in."

The legacy of Roddy White

Jones credits White for taking him under his wing when he was drafted in 2011. In many ways, Jones says White showed him what it takes to be a professional athlete. Because of the way White mentored Jones, he now feels it's his duty to do the same to the younger players in the locker room.

White will be inducted into the Falcons Ring of Honor on Sunday and Jones took a moment to reflect on White's legacy and what he means to him.

"Amazing, all the things he's done here," Jones said. "He paved the way for a lot of guys, myself included being a wide receiver here. Just making plays and the standard [he set]. He taught me the way [to] play the game, so I'm going to pass it down to these guys now. That's Roddy White, that's his legacy he left and it's always going to be here."

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