Julio Jones Finding Comfort By Slowing Down

Julio Jones Finding Comfort By Slowing Down

Jay Adams

Published August 18, 2012 at 6:53 PM

Last year was a whirlwind for Julio Jones. Drafted by the Falcons after they traded a slew of picks for the right to snag him, Jones was whisked into the NFL only to sit idle while the league and the players association worked out a new collective bargaining agreement.

That affected him on plenty of different levels — from not knowing where the weight room was to struggling to understand how to practice as a professional football player.

With a real offseason under his belt, Jones has been able to find a groove in his preparations for his second season and head coach Mike Smith remarked at the change Sunday.

“I think Julio’s a better player today than he was last year when we were breaking camp,” Smith said. “There’s no doubt about that, just from the maturation process of understanding what it means and what it takes to be an NFL player.”

Perhaps that was the biggest thing Jones needed to adjust to — the off-field and preparation elements of being a pro.

During his rookie year, Jones didn’t know the difference between full speed and practice speed. He didn’t know that he shouldn’t be on the field taking every single snap. Learning those things came during the offseason, and Smith is pleased with the change in mindset and what really is Jones taking his foot off the gas a bit.

“You’ve got to make sure you pace yourself for the entire season. Julio’s a guy that wants to go full speed all the time,” Smith said. “There’s a difference between game speed and practice speed. There has to be, and I think he has a much better understanding of that. He was a guy that wanted to take every snap in practice that he could last year, and I think he has a better understanding this year in terms of how we do our rotations and how we have a set number of plays that we want certain to get.”

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