Wide receiver Julio Jones said he’ll be ready to play when the Atlanta Falcons kick off their 2014 NFL season against the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 7 in the Georgia Dome.
In video interviews with SI Now on Monday, the former Foley High School and Alabama standout said: “Week 1, I’ll be ready to go.”
Jones suffered a broken foot in the fifth game of the 2013 season.
The Falcons start the third of their three sessions of OTAs on Tuesday and have a mandatory minicamp June 17-19. Although Jones said he was “ahead of schedule” in his rehabilitation, he said he didn’t think he would be able to work at full speed for those practices. He said he had been working out since February, but was limited to running routes by himself right now, although he is now able to plant on his injured foot, which “feels really good right now.”
Jones said he was following the schedule set by the Falcons’ trainers and coaches.
“We’re not in a rush right now because the season is so far away right now,” Jones said. “They’re just taking all the precautions and making sure I’ll be ready to go for next year.”
Jones said he had learned something while sidelined last season.
“You just miss it,” he said. “You don’t know how much you love something until it’s gone.”
Coming off a Pro Bowl season, Jones played in only five games last year before fracturing his foot in a game against the New York Jets on Oct. 7. When he went down, Jones led the NFL with 41 receptions and ranked second with 580 receiving yards.
In 2012, the Falcons reached the NFC championship game. Last season, Atlanta had a 4-12 record. Jones blamed the downturn on injuries such as his.
“We had a lot of injuries on our team,” Jones said. “And it happens. We’ve just got to bounce back, and I think we’ve got the right guys on our team. I wouldn’t trade them for nobody else.”