The Atlanta Falcons start three days of mandatory minicamp on Tuesday expecting to have one of their two Pro Bowl wide receivers ready to practice.
Former UAB standout Roddy White returned to the Falcons’ OTAs last week. He had been out since his half brother Tyrone Moore Jr. was shot and killed on May 17 in Charleston, S.C.
“He’s been through a lot the last three or four weeks with his family,” Atlanta coach Mike Smith said. “It was good for him to be back with his football family. He looked great.”
Julio Jones, who starred for Foley High School and Alabama, won’t be ready to play this week. Jones suffered a broken foot in the fifth game of last season, and he hasn’t been a full participant in practice since.
“It feels like an eternity, just not being out there with my brothers,” Jones said. “It’s been a very difficult process as far as that aspect of it, but I’m just going through the treatment and just being smart about the whole situation.
“We’re just being careful about the situation and making sure I’m 100 percent before I go out there.”
Jones did not express concern he had injured the same foot previously. After turning in an 11-foot, 3-inch standing broad jump and a 4.39-second 40-yard dash at the 2011 NFL Combine, it was revealed Jones had performed for the NFL scouts with a fractured foot. Jones had surgery on the foot after the combine.
“It is a freak accident, breaking the same bone,” Jones said.
He’s also not concerned the injury will hamper his ability to negotiate a new contract with the Falcons. During the offseason, the Falcons picked up the fifth-year option on Jones’ rookie contract. Jones is scheduled to be paid $2,581,875 for the 2014 season and $10.176 million for 2015. Because he’s played three seasons, though, Jones is eligible to re-negotiate his rookie contract. Atlanta traded five draft picks to the Cleveland Browns to move up from 27th to sixth in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft to select Jones.
“I will not get to free agency,” Jones said. “They gave up a lot for me, and they know how hard I work. They’re not going to let me go. And I love Atlanta. I love being here.”
While Jones is entering his fourth NFL season, White is preparing for his 10th season with the Falcons. He’s in the final year of his contract, which will pay him $5 million for the 2014 season. Atlanta owner Arthur Blank has said the Falcons want to re-sign White so he can spend his entire career with the team. Jones said he hopes that happens.
“I’d get double-teamed every game,” Jones said about playing without White. “But I think Roddy’s going to be there. He wants to play three more years with us.”
Jones couldn’t say when he’d be ready to practice.
“I don’t know when I’m going to get cleared,” he said. “It’s out of my hands.”