The last time Julio Jones didn’t put up 1,000 yards in a season, he missed 11 games. That was way back in 2013, when a foot injury cost him the entire year and raised fears that the gifted receiver would always deal with injuries.
In the six seasons following that year, though, Julio appeared in at least 14 games each year despite dealing with plenty of nagging ailments. The closest he came to a sub-1,000 yard season was 2019, when he put up 1,394 in his first year of his second go-around with Dirk Koetter. This year, finally, it appears injuries will rob Julio of 1,000 yards again.
Jones has appeared in just 9 games thus far in 2020, posting 51 catches for 771 yards and 3 touchdowns. When he’s been on the field, he’s largely looked like himself, but a balky hamstring has at times clearly impacted his effectiveness and has cost him five full games and bits and pieces of others. That’s led to plenty of discussion about whether the team might consider shutting Julio down for the year to give him a head start on getting healthy in 2021.
What that talk generally ignores is that the team would like to have Julio out there and Julio clearly desperately wants to be out there, as well. and he’s having procedures aimed at getting him back out there against the Chiefs and Buccaneers in Weeks 16 and 17.
In fact, Jones received a platelet-rich plasma injection into his balky hamstring following a loss to the Saints in early December, a procedure aimed to accelerate the healing in the area that’s given him problems all season. It’s also a strong sign that he wants to be on the field again.
These kinds of injections have shown some effectiveness in accelerating the healing process for ligaments, tendons, and muscles, per articles I tried to get from websites ending in .edu and .org and not WebMD, but have not conclusively been proven to accelerate the healing process. Perhaps this is the kind of boost Julio needs to get back on the field faster, but as Rapoport suggests, it’s more telling of Julio’s desire to play again in 2020 than anything else. He’s never been a player who particularly enjoys being sidelined, and the offense had gone into the toilet without him before this week’s improved performance against the Buccaneers. The Falcons could use him—they could always use a healthy Julio Jones—but they’re also 4-10 and realistically I’m not sure even Julio can do enough to pull them ahead of the Chiefs and Bucs on the road.
It’s fair to say I don’t bet against Julio if I don’t have to, so I’d fully expect him to suit up in Week 16, Week 17, or both. It’s an incredible bummer to see #11 pushing so hard to play in a season that was lost a long time ago, and I just hope he’s healthy for 2021.