Julio Jones fits in on first day back

Jones discusses his return, working out with Terrell Owens

In camp, Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones says he always intended to be attend training camp. (Video by D. Orlando Ledbetter)

Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones was one of the first players to run on the field for the first day of training camp Friday.

Afterward, he tried to distance himself from a potential hold out and from his decision to skip the team’s offseason program and the mandatory minicamp.

Jones and his agent settled for a restructured contract and a promised contract extension after the coming season.

“It was just me handling my business so I can be the best that I can be for this ballclub,” Jones said.

Jones would not acknowledge that he planned to hold out.

“All along, me and (Falcons coach Dan Quinn), we always stayed connected,” Jones said. “He knew I was going to be here. Today was great. The young guys look good. The Falcons way.”

Quinn expected Jones to participate in the offseason program. After catching only two touchdown passes from Matt Ryan last season, Quinn felt they needed to practice on the deep passing attack.

However, Jones had other plans.

“It was all about the communication side of it,” Jones said. “Me and Dan Quinn, we stayed connected and I told him on my end of what I was doing. It was just for me getting healthy. Going through stuff for me to get back right and feeling 100 percent.”

Jones looked great during his return to the team.

“It was awesome to have him back out there,” Quinn said.

“That part of it was really sharp and clean.”

Jones appeared pleased with the restructured deal that gave him $2.9 million more for this season.

“(Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff) and my agency, things like that, control things like that,” Jones said. “I’m just here to play football. Like I said, (they) just took care of me.”

Jones had a fine season as he caught 88 passes for 1,444 yards and three touchdowns. There were times where he had to take himself out of games. He had offseason toe surgery and missed all of the 2017 offseason.

“I just have to go out here, and those guys have to be able to count on me on each and every play,” Jones said.

But, Jones wouldn’t budge about the holdout.

“I was already was going to come here,” Jones said. “They took care of it. We knew all along that we were going to get it handled. I talked to Mr. (Arthur) Blank, too, yesterday and re-iterated what he said, ‘that I’m going to be a Falcon forever’ and things like that. That’s it.”

Blank was pleased to see his star wide receiver back with the team.

“As far as J.J. is concerned, I really never had any concern that he would not be here,” Blank said. “Back in May at the owner’s meeting I was asked how I felt about J.J., and I said that he was going to be a Falcon for life. A couple of days later he re-echoed that comment on his own without any prompting that he planned on being a Falcon for life.”

Blank is fond of Jones, who’s a five-time Pro Bowler.

“He’s been a great Falcon for us not only on the field, but off the field,” Blank said. “He’s a great leader in the locker room, particularly since Roddy (White) retired. He’s a great leader in the terms of the community work that we are doing as well. It’s was a matter of some adjustments.”

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones gives Matt Ryan a chest bump with quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp looking on the opening day of training camp on Friday, July 27, 2018, in Flowery Branch.

Credit: Curtis Compton

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Credit: Curtis Compton

‘When you look at a relationship, any relationship over a long period of time, personal or a business one, you do the right thing. You make the mid-course tweaks.”

Blank was informed about the negotiations with Jones and his agent, but did not become involved.

“You don’t want to cross that line,” Blank said. “But you do want to understand what’s going on with your football team. You want have knowledge. You want to probe a little bit with your coach and your general manager and understand their thinking. You want to be a support for them.”

During Jones time away from the team, he worked out with Hall of Fame wide receiver Terrell Owens in Alabama and California.

“The guy is an animal,” Jones said. “I worked out with him at the University of Alabama. He came down. I reached out to him. I wanted to get some work done.”

Jones felt he could learn from Owens, who was a porous teammate and threw three of his quarterbacks under the bus in Jeff Garcia, Tony Romo and Donovan McNabb.

“He’s going into the Hall of Fame,” Jones said. “He’s a guy who knows how to take care of his body. I’ve been taking care of my body. It’s always good to learn.

“This is Year 8 for me, and I’m still learning. Just to learn from one of the best to ever do it. It was good. I like everything about it. He’s a great guy.”

As far as the deep passing, Ryan and Jones did get in some work when the players held their own camp in California.

“This is my eighth year with him,” Jones said. “There are some new routes that we want to hit on. We hit them today. (They look) great.”

Whatever was bothering Jones, has gone away.

“We are on the same page,” Jones said. “For me, it’s better because I’m healthy and we can do everything.”