Julio Jones had the finest game of his career against the Panthers earlier this year, torching a young, hapless Panthers secondary for 300 yards and a touchdown on 12 receptions. It was a humiliating defeat for Carolina, and a harsh reminder that mere mortals do not have any business attempting to cover Julio Jones.
Julio has now missed two consecutive weeks, but Dan Quinn seems optimistic that he’ll return to attempt to wreak havoc on Carolina again. The team’s young cornerbacks are playing better than they were the last time Julio preyed on them, but the passing attack is still ridiculously effective and Taylor Gabriel has emerged as a legitimate threat, so the Panthers are likely to still struggle against the Atlanta high-flying passing attack. Getting Julio back would just make everything easier, and would force Carolina to funnel considerable effort and resources toward stopping him.
It’s a good time for him to return. The Falcons were able to give #11 two weeks off to heal up while they dominated the weakest opponents on their schedule, but with Tampa Bay still hanging around in the division and an urgent need to keep winning against the Panthers and Saints, Julio’s presence will be welcome. The Falcons should be very healthy on offense, with only Austin Hooper likely to miss this one, and that could make all the difference between a Panthers team that would love to play spoiler.
Somehow, it’s worth noting, Julio still leads the NFL in receiving, too. Let’s hope he can go for 300