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Posted: 5:41 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013

Falcons expect Belichick to try to take away WR Julio Jones  

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By D. Orlando Ledbetter

FLOWERY BRANCH -- Falcons receiver Julio Jones has 27 catches for 373 yards and two touchdowns, including an 81-yard touchdown blast against the Rams.

His 27 catches are tied for the league led with New England’s Julian Edelman.

“Julio is an exceptional talent,” Koetter said. “He really is. When him and Matt (Ryan) are clicking and we give him adequate time, Julio is tough to stop. I’m sure that he’s going continue to see defenses try to take him away but that’s not an easy task. He’s one of those elite players who can still get open.”

Jones’ combination of height (6-foot-3, 229 pounds) and speed (sub 4.3 in the 40-yard dash) makes him extremely difficult to defend.

“He can run by you,” Koetter said. “He can jump over the top of you. He has strong hands and he’s a good route runner.”

Jones, who's in his third season, has been listed on the injury report this season with a hamstring injury during the exhibition season and with a knee injury during the regular-season. His pain threshold is very high.

He once played a college game with broken fingers and he made a legendary 40-yard dash run at the NFL scouting combine with a stress fracture in his foot. He later had to have a screw inserted to fix the foot.

“He is a tough competitor,” Koetter said. “It’s been my experience with Julio that no matter how much he’s hurting, he can usually rise up on game day and compete.”

New England coach Bill Belichick, a defensive guru, will certainly try to come up with a scheme to slow down Jones. When the Falcons played the Patriots in 2009, Belichick concentrated on Roddy White and Tony Gonzlaez and dared Michael Jenkins to make plays.

Jenkins caught five passes on eight targets for 78 yards. White had four catches, all on shallow routes, for 24 yards and Gonzalez, who faced bracketed double coverage, was held to one catch on two targets.

“Julio has been very impressive,” Belichick said. “As you know, he does everything well. In the running game, he’s an excellent blocker. In the passing game, he goes down the field and takes the ball away from defenders.

“He’s a strong run-after-catch player with all of the tear screens and the short passes that they throw him. He can turn them into long gains just as easily as he can turn a go pattern into a long gain.

The Patriots will have to mix their coverages up on Jones.

“He’s really so hard to jam just because he’s so physical and strong," Belichick said. "He has good speed down the field. He has good timing to go up and get the ball. He does a lot of things. He’s a hard guy to defend.  Julio Jones is very, very impressive on film.”

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D. Orlando Ledbetter

About D. Orlando Ledbetter

D. Orlando Ledbetter is the Atlanta Falcons Beat Writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was one of the lead writers in the notorious Michael Vick dog-fighting federal case.

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