Cover 9@9: Julio Jones said communication is key to offense

060716 FLOWERY BRANCH: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receiver Julio Jones confer during practice on an OTA day, Tuesday, June 7, 2016, in Flowery Branch. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

060716 FLOWERY BRANCH: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receiver Julio Jones confer during practice on an OTA day, Tuesday, June 7, 2016, in Flowery Branch. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

1. Communication is king. Part of the problem with the Falcons offense last season was communications. Not only was the terminology new under coordinator Kyle Shanahan, but there was a bit of dysfunction that goes along with that type of transition.

“It’s all about communication,” Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones said. “It’s Kyle’s second year and our second year in the offense….It’s just communication. We just have to get back to doing what we do and understand where Kyle wants to go and where Kyle wants to take us.”

Center Alex Mack, who played season under Shanahan in Cleveland in 2014, will help to stabilize the communication between the offensive linemen.

“Just the checks, he knows all of the checks,” Jones said. “He’s been in the offense forever. He was with Kyle before Kyle got here. Now, he can bring those younger guys and even the veteran guys on the line, he can make the calls for them. That will make it easier for them to go out there and do their job.”

After his mega-season, Jones is expecting even more attention from the league’s defensive coordinators.

“I’m go to demand that double coverage,” Jones said. “Guys are going to favor me, but it’s my job to go out there and be in shape to be able to pull coverages and go full speed every play.”

Jones doesn’t mind the attention.

“It doesn’t matter if they are going to roll coverages to me, I’m going to go out there, play hard and be the assist man,” Jones said.

2. Jones on Morris. Assistant head coach Raheem Morris is coaching the wide receivers this season. He replaces Terry Robiskie, who left to become Tennessee’s offensive coordinator.

“There no need to adjust,” Jones said. “He brings that defensive mindset to the room, because he sees things from a defensive perspective and he shows us the way to attack defenses and what leverages that we need to attack.”

3. Hitting the books. Jones is in the process of returning to college to finish his degree at the University of Alabama.

Jones, who entered the draft after his junior year, said he has about 32 hours to complete his degree and was working to get set up for online correspondence classes.

“I’ve got to get that paper,” Jones told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Jones spent part of his offseason working out in Tuscaloosa and Alabama head coach Nick Saban talked to him about finishing his degree. He was studying criminal justice and environmental science.

“I may have to change my major, but I want to finish it,” Jones said.



4. Jones takes on leadership role. Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones went to dinner with former Falcons wide receiver Roddy White on Monday. The two also celebrated Memorial Day together.

“I miss Roddy a lot,” Jones said. “It’s a business. Now, for the younger guys, I’m the guy to look up to and I’m willing to teach guys.”

Jones plans to pass along the lessons he learned from White.

“I learned a lot from Roddy about being a great teammate, about bringing other guys, the young guys, with you and showing them the right way to go out here and play the game of football,” Jones said.

White, the franchise’s all-time leading receiver in catches (808), yards (10,863) and touchdowns (63), was released in March. He wants to continue playing for a contender. Carolina, Tampa Bay and Minnesota have been mentioned as possible landing spots for White.

Jones thought White would be signed by now.

“I’m very surprised, but you know how it is in the NFL,” Jones said. “Guys kind of wait until the last minute to make that decision.”

Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper (81) takes part in drills during NFL rookie minicamp football in Flowery Branch, Ga. Saturday, May 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)

Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper (81) takes part in drills during NFL rookie minicamp football in Flowery Branch, Ga. Saturday, May 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)

5. Hooper’s return. Stanford tight end Austin Hooper will be on hand for the team’s mandatory minicamp next week. He had to miss OTAs because his school was not out yet.

6. Rose booms field goals. Falcons rookie kicker Nick Rose made 7-of-9 field goal attempts. He missed wide right from 42 yards and from 52 yards.

7. NFC South Passing Attacks.  Falcons (defensive) passing game coordinator Jerome Henderson, the only new member of coach Dan Quinn’s coaching staff heading into his second season, has a daunting task.

With stable quarterback situations in the NFC South, Henderson must coordinate the pass defense to contend with New Orleans’ Drew Brees, Carolina’s Cam Newton and the emerging Jameis Winston in Tampa Bay.

“It is a big challenge,” Henderson said. “This is a very tough division. You look at what the Panthers did last year. You look at how Tampa is growing with the young quarterback and Brees in the wily veteran.

“It’s a tough, tough (division) when you look at defending the pass.”

The Falcons offseason focus was to improve the pass defense by revamping the linebackers corps, adding safety Kenau Neal in the draft and the continued development of Jalen Collins at right cornerback.

“We are trying to get better to defend the pass and get better skill-sets in here so that we can go out and we look at those guys in the eye and say, ‘Let’s go,’ ” Henderson said.

8. Meet Jerome Henderson.Jerome Henderson

TITLE: Falcons (defensive) passing game coordinator

Hometown: Statesville, N.C.

College: Clemson (1987-1990)

Pro playing career: (1991-98) New England drafted him in the second round. He played with the Patriots (1991-93 and 96), Bills (1993-94), Eagles (1995) and the Jets (1997-98). He played in 98 games and made 34 starts. He played in two Super Bowls, with the Bills in Super Bowl XXVIII and the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI

Pro coaching career: Dallas (2012-2015), Cleveland (2009-2011), New York Jets (2006-2008).

Family: Henderson grew up in Statesville, N.C., and went on to play four years at Clemson University (1987-90). He and his wife, Traci, have three children, Jazmin and twins Taylor and Tyler.

9. Updated depth chart. Here’s  an updated  look at the projected Atlanta Falcons depth chart after watching how most of the units lined up during the third open OTA. The Falcons are at 89 players, one under the 90-player offseason limit.

The Falcons signed defensive end Nordly Capi and guard Michael Huey on Tuesday.

They also released former Georgia defensive end Josh Dawson.

Capi, 6-foot-3, 249 pounds, was signed by Jacksonville as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2015. He spent part of the season on the Ravens practice squad. He played in college at Colorado State.

Huey, 6-4, 317, was signed by the Seahawks in 2011. He has also spent time with Washington, the Chargers and the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League where he was a three-time all-AFL player. He played in college at Texas.

The Falcons roster currently stands at 89, one under the 90-man offseason limit.

OFFENSE

WR 11 Julio Jones, 16 Justin Hardy, 17 Devin Hester, 87 Devin Fuller, 18 Jordan Leslie

LT 70 Jake Matthews, 76 Tom Compton

LG 67 Andy Levitre, 71 Wes Schweitzer, 79 Shabaz Ahmed

C   51 Alex Mack, 63 Ben Garland, 69 Jake Reed, 62 James Stone (injured)

RG 68 Mike Person, 64 Collin Rahrig, Michael Huey, 65 Chris Chester (injured)

RT 73 Ryan Schraeder, 72 Bryce Harris, 66 Laurence Gibson

TE 83 Jacob Tamme, 80 Levine Toilolo, 81 Austin Hooper, 86 D.J. Tialavea, 82 Joshua Perkins

WR Mohamed Sanu, 14 Eric Weems, 15 Nick Williams, 19 Aldrick Robinson, 85 J.D. McKissic, 89 Daje Johnson, 7 David Glidden

QB 2 Matt Ryan, 8 Matt Schaub, 12 Sean Renfree, 1 Matt Simms

RB 24 Devonta Freeman, 26 Tevin Coleman, 28 Terron Ward, 35 Gus Johnson, 20 Brandon Wilds

FB 42 Patrick DiMarco, 39 Will Ratelle

NICKEL DEFENSE (60 PERCENT)

RDE  99 Adrian Clayborn, 50 Brooks Reed, 91 Courtney Upshaw, 94 Tyson Jackson, 71 Brandon Williams

DT 97 Grady Jarrett, 95 Jonathan Babineaux, 98 Cory Johnson

DT 90 Derrick Shelby, 77 Ra’Shede Hageman, 92 Joey Mbu, 74 Chris Mayes

LDE 44 Vic Beasley Jr., 93 Malliciah Goodman, 52 Tyler Starr

LB 56 Sean Weatherspoon,  41 Philip Wheeler, 59 De’Vondre Campbell, 46 Torrey Green

LB 55 Paul Worrilow, 45 Deion Jones, 53 LaRoy Reynolds, 54 Josh Dawson, 48 Ivan McLennan

RCB 25 Akeem King, 32 Jalen Collins, 29 C.J. Goodwin, 33 Devonte Johnson, 38 David Mims II

NCB 23 Robert Alford, 43 DeMarcus Van Dyke, 34 Brian Poole

LCB 21 Desmond Trufant, 43 DeMarcus Van Dyke, 39 Jordan Sefon

FS 37 Ricardo Allen, 27 Robenson Therezie, 20 Sharrod Neaseman

SS 22 Keanu Neal, 30 Charles Godfrey, 36 Kemal Ishmael, 40 Damian Parms

4-3 – UNDER

RDE  94 Tyson Jackson, 99 Adrian Clayborn, 91 Courtney Upshaw, 71 Brandon Williams, 96 Nordly Capi

DT  77 Ra’Shede Hageman, 95 Jonathan Babineaux, 98 Cory Johnson

NT 97 Grady Jarrett, 92 Joey Mbu, 74 Chris Mayes

LDE  90 Derrick Shelby, 77 Ra’Shede Hageman, 93 Malliciah Goodman, 52 Tyler Starr

WLB 56 Sean Weatherspoon, 59 De’Vondre Campbell, 46 Torrey Green, 48 Ivan McLennan

MLB 55 Paul Worrilow, 45 Deion Jones, 53 LaRoy Reynolds

SLB 44 Vic Beasley, 41 Philip Wheeler, 50 Brooks Reed, 91 Courtney Upshaw,

RCB 25 Akeem King, 32 Jalen Collins, 23 Robert Alford, 29 C.J. Goodwin, 33 Devonte Johnson, 38 David Mims II

LCB 21 Desmond Trufant, 43 DeMarcus Van Dyke, 39 Jordan Sefon, 34 Brian Poole

FS 37 Ricardo Allen, 27 Robenson Therezie, 20 Sharrod Neaseman

SS 22 Keanu Neal, 30 Charles Godfrey, 36 Kemal Ishmael, 40 Damian Parms

SPECIALISTS

K 3 Matt Bryant, 1 Nick Rose

KO 5 Matt Bosher

P 5 Matt Bosher

KR 17 Devin Hester, 14 Eric Weems, 16 Justin Hardy, 7 David Glidden, 85 J.D. McKissic

PR 17 Devin Hester, 14 Eric Weems, 16 Justin Hardy, 7 David Glidden, 85 J.D. McKissic

LS 47 Josh Harris

H 5 Matt Bosher

90-MAN ROSTER ANALYSIS — POSITION BY POSITION

Atlanta Falcons 90-man roster analysis: Linebackers

Atlanta Falcons 90-man roster analysis: Running backs

Atlanta Falcons 90-man roster analysis: Specialists

FALCONS’ OFFSEASON SPOTLIGHTS

Falcons’ offseason spotlight: OG Wes Schweizter, sixth round pick

Falcons offseason spotlight: LB De’Vondre Campbell, fourth round pick

Falcons’ offseason spotlight: TE Austin Hooper, third round pick

Falcons’ offseason spotlight: LB Deion Jones, second round pick

Falcons’ offseason spotlight: SS Keanu Neal, first round pick

Falcons’ offseason spotlight: DE/SLB Vic Beasley

Falcons’ offseason spotlight: DT Grady Jarrett

Falcons’ offseason spotlight: FS Robenson Therezie

Falcons’ offseason spotlight: CB Jalen Collins

Falcons’ offseason spotlight: RB Tevin Coleman

Falcons’ offseason spotlight: WR Justin Hardy


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