Arthur Smith on Julio Jones: ‘I don’t worry about players that I never coached’

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New Falcons coach Arthur Smith addresses the void left in Atlanta's offense with the trade of wide receiver Julio Jones to the Tennessee Titans.

Falcons coach Arthur Smith, before opening his first mandatory minicamp Tuesday, wished former wide receiver Julio Jones well in Tennessee, but made it clear that he was focused on improving his roster.

ExploreWhat the Falcons’ offense will look like without Julio Jones

Jones, the franchise’s all-time leader in catches and receiving yards, was traded with a 2023 sixth-round pick to the Titans for a second-round pick in 2022 and a fourth-round pick in 2023 on Sunday.

“We’ve got a whole lot of respect for Julio and for what he did here,” Smith said. “Wish him well in Tennessee, but my really main concern is our roster and if it’s ready to go this fall.”

Smith mentioned the backup swing tackle twice while discussing the roster.

He said the Falcons had contingency plans not only for Jones leaving via trade, but up and down the roster.

“As for any player, you got to have contingency plans,” Smith said. “Where your depth chart is at. Who’s you swing tackle? So, you’re constantly looking at the roster and you have a plan of what you think it will look like, but like all of us know … there’s a 100 percent injury (rate) in the NFL and you’ve got to be able to adapt.”

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New Falcons coach Arthur Smith addresses the continuing process of getting players situated with the playbook at the start of mandatory minicamp.

With Jones off to the Titans, the Falcons are set to elevate Calvin Ridley to the No. 1 spot. The Falcons also drafted tight end Kyle Pitts fourth overall in the NFL draft.

“We are constantly evaluating the personnel groupings that we’ve got out there,” Smith said. “There should be good competition and really great opportunities for every guy out there on this roster.”

Smith was Tennessee’s offensive coordinator before landing the Falcons’ job. He was asked if he felt the offense can be productive without Jones.

“My concern is the guys that we (have) on this roster,” Smith said. “I’ve dealt with a lot situations, week to week and my experience in Tennessee, it doesn’t matter. We are going to roll the ball out there. We’re going to kick off. There is going to be a game to play and objective is going to be to go win. No different than when we were dealing with the COVID-19 issue against Buffalo, we had four wideouts out for that game.

“My job as the coach is to get us prepared to play. We’ll do whatever we have to do to win that game. That’s kind of how I look at it, and I don’t worry about players that I never coached.”

Smith would not say when the Falcons started to plan for not having Jones, who requested a trade in March.

“For any player on our roster, whether you are looking at the quarterback position, backup quarterback, tackle, who’s your swing tackle,” Smith said. “Guard? Who’s going to be in there at center? We really looked at the entire roster.”

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