Julio Jones Impressing in Camp Ahead of Tampa Bay's Preseason Opener
It’s been a bit since we saw the prime version of Julio Jones.
There was a time when Tampa Bay’s newly acquired wide receiver was one of the most dominant forces on the outside for the Atlanta Falcons, but injuries have sapped his explosiveness and derailed much of his past two seasons.
Jones has played in just 19 games over the past two seasons and has recorded 1,205 yards for four touchdowns. By comparison, in the previous six seasons, he played in at least 14 games and had more than 1350 yards each year and 37 touchdowns during that span.
But in a recent video clip posted on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Twitter account, the explosive playmaking Jones was back on full display. During joint practice with the Miami Dolphins on Wednesday, Jones jumped over Miami cornerback Noah Iginoghene to secure the deep ball in a 7-on-7 drill.
“I feel great,” Jones said on Thursday to reporters. “I feel like everybody here’s been doing a great job collectively in keeping everybody healthy. They do a really great job here. I’m excited about being here, and just being who I am and just coming to work. It’s that simple.”
Hamstring injuries slowed Jones the last two seasons, when he admitted he was “just going out there 60, 70%” and attempting to play. Tennesse released Jones in March in a salary-cap dump move. Jones signed on with Tampa Bay in July, giving the Buccaneers an established trio of wide receivers with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Combined, Evans and Godwin tallied 172 receptions for 2,138 yards and 19 touchdowns.
“I just come out here and just be me,” Jones said. “It’s no, like, I’m going to downgrade myself or my play style or who am I because you have other ones out there, other guys who’ve done great things in this league for a long time. I have to go out here and approach each and every day like Julio Jones. I don’t go and say, ‘Well, they’re going to ask this of me or that of me.’ I have a standard for myself.”
Jones Betting Odds
Sportsbooks remain a bit pessimistic about Jones’ production in a new system that already has established wide receivers. DraftKings set Jones’ season receiving yards over/under at 550.5. Last season was the first time during his 11-year career that Jones failed to eclipse 550 yards receiving. Jones is also +10000 to lead the league in receiving yards at DraftKings.
But according to those who have watched him in camp, Jones is already exceeding expectations.
“You know, he looks good,” Tampa Bay coach Todd Bowles said on Monday. “Obviously, not being with the team in the offseason, he’s still got to get in a little better shape, but we like what we see in him. He’s explosive, very smart, understands the game and he can help us.”
The first opportunity to see Jones in a live game comes on Saturday with Tampa Bay hosting Miami for the teams’ preseason opener. The Dolphins are –1.5 point favorites at FanDuel Sportsbook.
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