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Julio Jones talks contract, preseason ahead of Hall of Fame Game

The upshot: He’s not playing in preseason and he’s not waiting for others to sign deals.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons-Minicamp Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Julio Jones is as comfortable with who he is and what he wants to do as any player in the NFL, at least to outward appearances. His comments to the media on Tuesday, which revolved around his contract, preseason and the development of young players on the roster, just reinforces that impression of him.

Start with preseason. Few starters will be playing in the Hall of Fame Game on Thursday, but Julio told us he’s not going to play in preseason at all. After last year’s stellar year where Julio was not all that active for preseason, and the fact that not having him on the field allows guys fighting for roster spots to get reps, that’s hardly a concern. Dan Quinn went ahead and confirmed that, as well.

So if Julio’s not playing in preseason but will be ready for the beginning of the season, what’s to focus on? For most of us, that’s probably is his contract, which we’ve been told is forthcoming for a while now. The widespread expectation is that it’ll get done before the 2019 season opens, fueled by Jones’ low-key attitude toward it and Arthur Blank’s vow to get a contract hammered out, but there’s been plenty of talk in NFL media that a few elite receivers are waiting to see who gets the first big deal so they can negotiate up from there.

Julio insisted that’s not happening on his end:

“No, we’re not in the same boat. They got their own thing going on, I got my own thing going on. I’m not waiting on Michael Thomas, I’m not waiting on Amari Cooper. It’s just us going back and forth right now and negotiating.”

And on the last piece, Julio made it clear that he views working with the young receivers as his major role in the summer. He singled out Christian Blake for praise—and it’s worth noting that the second-year undrafted free agent has been turning heads in camp—but said he’s particularly looking forward to seeing those receivers on the field Thursday trying to make a mark.

“I just want to see them, you know, in a game atmosphere, see how they can hold it together and go out there and compete.”

Aside from the contract signing, it sounds like it’ll be a pretty quiet August for Julio Jones. I look forward to seeing what kind of noises he makes in September and beyond.