Julio Jones says toe is fine: 'Nothing needs to hold me back'

ByVaughn McClure ESPN logo
Thursday, December 22, 2016

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones said he feels good coming off a sprained toe, but that he'll let coach Dan Quinn decide his status for Saturday's matchup with the Carolina Panthers.

Jones missed the past two games as a result of the injury. He returned to practice Tuesday and was scheduled to go full-speed through certain drills Wednesday. He was in a helmet and fielded passes alongside fellow receiver Mohamed Sanu, but hedid not complete any full-speed maneuvers at the beginning of Wednesday's practice.

"We got him out there a little more today at a faster tempo than we did yesterday," Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said after Wednesday's practice. "He's still limited, not being able to do everything, but we definitely feel better with where he is today than we he was last week."

Shanahan explained what he meant by limited.

"Just the amount we were pushing him out there," he said. "It was his first time back in a few weeks. You don't want him to just take all the reps. We were being careful with him, and hopefully he'll be able to go on Sunday."

"I've just got to go out there and fly around,'' Jones said. "Nothing needs to hold me back or I can't do it or be me. If I can't be me ... (Quinn's) not going to let me go. He wants me at 100 percent moving around and doing what I need to do."

Jones said he would have played through the injury -- first suffered in a Dec. 4 loss to Kansas City -- had it been earlier in the season. However, he admitted being mindful of the playoffs, considering he's already played through knee, calf, ankle and shoulder injuries this season.

"It's just more of not necessarily being able to do what I do,'' Jones said. "It's about being smart about the postseason, the time it happened. If it was early on, maybe probably push through and see what happens. But it's critical right now. One game at a time, but you also have to look on maybe (to) the postseason. You don't want to do anything to rush back, hurt myself and not be out there for my brothers."

The Falcons handled business without Jones, easily defeating the Los Angeles Rams42-14 and the San Francisco 49ers41-13. Saturday's game against Carolina is likely to be much more competitive, and the Falcons could use their top offensive weapon.

The Falcons could win the NFC South title with a victory coupled with a loss by theTampa Bay Bucsagainst the Saints.