When Julio Jones is healthy, the Falcons are a better football team. Yes, you can add that to the ever-growing parody list of #obviousMikeSmithquotes.
Though the fact may be as plain as day, it's easy to forget how different Matt Ryan and the rest of Atlanta's offense look without Jones, who only appeared in five games last season before undergoing that season-ending foot surgery.
So it undeniably constitutes positive news when head coach Mike Smith has assured reporters that his star receiver should be "ready to go 100 percent" by training camp.
Mike Smith on Julio Jones, ``He's ahead of schedule. ....We'll be very careful. Our No. 1 goal is to have him ready (for) training camp.''— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) March 26, 2014
The coaches and training staff will naturally play it safe with Jones. There's no need to rush his recovery, especially given the nature of his injury, and missing mini-camp workouts in the spring would be nothing major at all. Given that he's already started running, he may be able to start working out in full during the summer months.
Despite having his season cut short, Jones still amassed 580 yards receiving and two scores on 41 catches. His intimidating blend of size, speed and toughness makes him a huge matchup issue on the perimeter that the team sorely missed in 2013.
With Tony Gonzalez's retirement and the offensive line still something of a question mark going forward, having Jones at full go will be crucial for the Falcons. Here's to hoping his recovery continues unhindered.