Julio Jones’ playing time against the Miami Dolphins on Saturday night will be extended “a little further” than in previous exhibition games, according to Falcons coach Dan Quinn.
Quinn said that in the Falcons’ third exhibition game each player’s time on the field will be evaluated individually.
“As we’re going through and we feel like a player is at his best with their readiness, then we’ll make the decision to pull,” Quinn said. “It’s not going to be a wholesale unit where the offense goes this amount of plays and the defense goes this amount of plays.”
Jones said for this week’s matchup against the Miami defense, he looks forward to competing with his team, regardless of how much playing time he receives.
“As long as I’m in there, I’m going to put out all my effort and be there for my teammates,” Jones said. “It’ll be a good test for us to see where we (are).”
In the Falcons’ past two exhibition games, Jones recorded 61 yards and scored the Falcons’ first touchdown of the season against the Tennessee Titans on Aug. 14. On Aug. 21, Jones started against the New York Jets, but didn’t record any stats.
Although Jones has the opportunity to play a greater role Saturday, he isn’t worried about significant injuries occurring in the preseason, such as with Green Bay’s No. 1 wide receiver Jordy Nelson, who suffered a significant knee injury Sunday against Pittsburgh.
Regarding Nelson’s injury, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers told Green Bay media that it was unfortunate to lose a skilled receiver such as Nelson in a “meaningless” game. Rodgers recommended restructuring exhibition-game schedules to avoid injuries. Additionally, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson spoke to media at Vikings practice Tuesday and said he recommended cutting some exhibition games to avoid injuries to starters.
Pertaining to opinions about the exhibition changes, Jones said shortening the preseason and giving starters less playing time isn’t his decision to make.
“I’m just going to line up and play,” Jones said. “I just have to go out there and play full speed. That’s part of the game. You can’t be cautious. That’s when you get injured.”
Jones missed one game in 2014 against Pittsburgh after suffering a hip injury. In October 2013, Jones fractured his foot and underwent season-ending surgery. Jones played five games in 2013, recording 580 yards and two touchdowns.
Quinn said even though Saturday’s game is an exhibition game, he sees the team and Jones continuing to prepare the same way.
“All of our preparation, every game that we play, we have the same mindset,” Quinn said. “We don’t place more emphasis on one opponent over the next and every change we go out to battle, we’ll represent that.”
Jones said the Falcons’ third exhibition game will be an opportunity to see how the first-team offense holds together in a game situation.
“It gives us a good opportunity to play for a half, and possibly for the third quarter as well,” Jones said. “They have a great defense over there, and it’s going to be a good test for us.”
Jones, a former Alabama wide receiver, led the NFC in receiving yards in 2014 with 1,593 yards and six touchdowns.
Regardless of Jones’ future statistics in 2015, Quinn said he knows Jones will continue to be a red-zone threat.
“He’s a unique player, and we’re going to try and feature in every single way that we can,” Quinn said. “Red zone, backed up, short yardage, third-down, first-down, (he’s) an absolute threat.”
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