If you want to see just how good Julio Jones is feeling about returning to form in 2014, you'll want to read the long piece Pete Prisco at CBS put together.
Prisco watching film with Julio is great, as are the details of his recovery from his injury and his willingness to keep playing on a broken screw in his foot, which is ill-advised but also incredibly badass. What really makes this stand out is Jones' incredible confidence, something you rarely hear from the soft-spoken receiver.
This is the money quote, and the one everyone's going to be kicking around for a couple of weeks:
"I feel like I am the best receiver in the league," Jones said. "Every receiver should feel that he's the best. It's all about confidence. You should never put another man in front of you and say he's better than you. I never compare myself to him (Johnson). When I was coming out of college, they used to talk about me and A.J. (Green). We're two different receivers. He's good at what he does, and I am good at what I do. Like the LeBron (James) and Michael Jordan thing. You can't compare the two.
"You're good in your own way. You do your own thing. I don't get into that talk with anyone else. I try and go out there and be the best I can be. I don't go out there and say Calvin Johnson caught this many passes today for this many yards, so I have to exceed that. No, I am going to go out there do what the Falcons need Julio to do to win. I don't have to catch no balls."
On talent alone, this isn't really that controversial. When he's on the field, Jones displays great hands, elite athleticism and speed and the ability to break games open by himself. I like that he isn't just focused on his numbers—you'll recall when he was drafted, he said things along these lines—and that he's brimming with confidence. You've got to believe you're the best.
There will be some fairly quiet backlash against this piece, most of it focusing on Julio's health. He played a 16 game season in 2012 but only five games last season and 13 in his rookie year, which is enough to lead some to the injury-prone label. There's no way to shake that aside from going out on the field, wreaking havoc and staying healthy, so Jones and Falcons fans will just have to endure any shots others take right now.
This whole story leads up to arguably my favorite Julio Jones quote of all-time.
"I don't need trash talk," Jones said. "It's not going to get me anywhere. It's not going to make me do anything. Talking never got nobody anything. Action always has. You know what? You score on them, and it's going to hurt more than words."
As of now, Jones appears to be on track for the 2014 season opener, and with Tony Gonzalez hitting retirement, there's one less great player soaking up targets. If he stays healthy throughout the upcoming season, there's no reason to believe he won't be among the best receivers in the NFL, at the very least.
Read the story and let us know what you think.