The Falcons’ hopes to turn the 2013 season around after a 1-4 start were dealt an unfortunate blow on Tuesday when Falcons head coach Mike Smith announced the team may lose star wide receiver Julio Jones for some time this season.
Smith said the receiver injured his foot during Monday night’s Week 5 loss to the Jets and the first diagnosis on his condition, according to Smith, was “not encouraging.” Smith added that Jones will seek a second opinion on Wednesday, but felt saying Jones would miss the entire season was “premature.”
“Julio injured his foot last night,” Smith said. “He saw our doctors this morning. He is going to have a second opinion tomorrow over in Charlotte, North Carolina. The first reports were not encouraging, but we will wait to see what the second opinion comes back as.”
Jones led the Falcons with 99 yards on eight catches. With running back Steven Jackson out since Week 2 with a hamstring injury and Roddy White playing but slowed with injuries of his own, Jones has carried the offense this season along with Tony Gonzalez. It’s unclear when the injury happened, but Smith said he’s already spoken with Jones and has an idea when it occurred.
“I spoke with Julio and Julio is a tough guy in terms of the exact play, but we think we’ve pretty much pinpointed when it happened,” Smith said and added that it came before Jones’ incredible one-handed, 46-yard reception in the fourth quarter.
Jones leads the NFL with 41 catches this season and his 580 yards is ranked second in the league. Jones has clearly been quarterback Matt Ryan’s top target this season and the receiver, a 2011 first-round draft pick, has the second-most targets in the entire league this year with 59. Jones has two touchdowns and missed receiving for 100 yards in his fourth straight game against the Jets by one yard.
Jones’ 81-yard touchdown reception against the Rams in Week 2 is the third-longest pass play of the season in the NFL and it was the third touchdown of his career over 80 yards. He’s one of just two players since 2011 to post multiple touchdowns of 80 yards or more.
If Jones misses time, the Falcons have White as their top receiver and Harry Douglas moves up to No. 2 on the depth chart. The wide receiver position is rounded out by Kevin Cone and Drew Davis, two young receivers who excel on special teams. On the practice squad, the Falcons have Darius Johnson and James Rodgers.