FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – After weeks and months of speculation on whether or not Julio Jones would be here for training camp, the Falcons quelled any concerns when they announced (very) late Wednesday night that their star receiver would report.
And on Friday, No. 11 was running up and down the practice fields as the Falcons 2018 AT&T Training Camp officially kicked off.
After practice Jones met with the media and, of course, he was asked about missing OTAs, minicamp and if he had intended to miss training camp, too, if a resolution wasn't worked out at the 11th hour.
Jones, interestingly enough, said that he expected to be at camp all along – and not miss any time. And a big reason why was because of prior conversations with Falcons owner Arthur Blank, general manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Dan Quinn.
"I was already going to come here," Jones said. "They took care of that. I knew we were going to get it handled. I talked to Mr. Blank as well (Thursday) and I had reiterated what he had said, that I was going to be a Falcon forever."
Jones said that he discussed his pre-camp holdout with "a couple of guys" and communicated regularly with Quinn, especially, to avoid anything getting out or being misconstrued.
"At the end of the day, it was me and Q and our relationship," Jones said. "You don't want to bring other people in and get them involved. That's a lot of he said, she said. Like I said, things can get twisted and things like that."
Jones, unlike last preseason when he was working his way back from an offseason foot surgery, is now fully healthy from Day 1 of camp – and that's a big deal as he and the rest of the Falcons his begin their second season under offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.
"This is my eighth year with (Matt Ryan), and we just got some new routes and things we want to hit on – we hit them today," Jones said. "We're on the same page. For me and for the team it's better because I'm healthy and can do everything now."
In 2017, Jones led the Falcons with 88 catches for 1,444 yards and three touchdowns. He also became the first player in NFL history with three games of over 250 receiving yards, when he caught 12 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-20 win over the Buccaneers in Week 12 last season.
"It was good to have Julio back," Quinn said. "So much of the work that gets done between wide receivers and quarterbacks – it's the individual time, it's the group work and then a little bit of two-minute here, and then post practice, we're devoting a little bit of time each day for the veterans to get some work in on some skills they want to [practice]."