Falcons notes: Julio Jones set to return to practice

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, who has battled a right hamstring injury, will return to practice Thursday, according to coach Mike Smith.

“We anticipate him being out on the practice field tomorrow, “ Smith said. “It will be encouraging to see him out practicing and not out working out with our athletic-performance department. He’s done a nice job in his rehabilitation. So, tomorrow we’ll give him an opportunity. If it goes well, we’ll progress to Friday and give him back-to-back days of work.”

Jones injured his left hamstring against Green Bay on Oct. 9. He missed the next two games, against Carolina and Detroit. He returned against Indianapolis on Nov. 6 and caught three passes for 131 yards and scored two touchdowns. He left the next game, against New Orleans, with an injured right hamstring. He didn’t play Sunday against Tennessee.

Jones has 30 catches for 498 yards and two touchdowns.

The Falcons traded away five draft picks to move up 21 spots in the first round to select Jones with the sixth pick overall. He has played in seven games, missed three games and major parts of two other games.

Jones, cornerbacks Kelvin Hayden (toe) and Brent Grimes (knee), defensive end John Abraham (rest), tight end Tony Gonzalez (rest) and center Todd McClure (rest) didn’t practice Wednesday.

Left tackle Sam Baker (back), left guard Justin Blalock (ankle), middle linebacker Curtis Lofton (ankle), safety William Moore (quadricep) and defensive tackle Corey Peters (knee) were limited in practice Wednesday.

It was the first day back at practice for Moore, who missed the past two games.

“We are trying to see where William is,” Smith said. “We gave him some limited reps today. When he first was injured, we thought it would be in the three-to-four week time frame of getting him back. This Sunday will be three weeks.”

Peterson update

Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier hopes that running back Adrian Peterson, who suffered a Grade 1 high left ankle sprain last week in the first quarter against Oakland, will be able to play against the Falcons on Sunday.

“We are going to see how he progresses in the next day or two,” Frazier said Wednesday. “Hopefully on Friday we’ll see if we can get him out of that boot and see if he can move around some. Then we’ll make a determination from there.”

The Grade 1 sprain is the least severe of the three high ankle sprains.

If Peterson is not able to play, Frazier said he will start second-year running back Toby Gerhart and relieve him with Lorenzo Booker.

“You’ve seen where we’ve used Percy [Harvin] in the backfield also as well,” Frazier said.

Peterson has rushed for 872 yards on 186 carries and scored 11 touchdowns. Gerhart has 24 carries for 118 yards. Booker has four rushes for 34 yards.

Frazier on Edwards

Frazier was the defensive coordinator in Minnesota for much of Ray Edwards’ four years there. Edwards, who has two sacks, signed with the Falcons as a free agent in July.

“It looks like he’s still playing very good football,” Frazier said. “He’s still very active. He’s a stout guy who’s always been a great effort guy. He seems to be playing the run extremely well. ... Because of the type of effort that Ray gives, those sacks will come.”

Etc.

Rookie Akeem Dent leads the Falcons with nine special-teams tackles. Safety Shann Schillinger is second with eight. ... Tony Gonzalez had five catches last week to reach 50 this season. He joined Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (17 years) as the only players with 14 seasons of 50-plus catches.