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Julio Jones, Matt Ryan working to keep Atlanta Falcons offense on same page

By The Sports Xchange
Julio Jones, Matt Ryan working to keep Atlanta Falcons offense on same page
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (left) talks to wide receiver Julio Jones (11). UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo

FLOWERY BRANCH, Fla. -- Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones is not worried about an encore to his epic 2015 season.

The acrobatic Jones led the NFL with 136 catches and 1,871 yards receiving. He had eight touchdowns as the Falcons slugged their way to an 8-8 season under first-year coach Dan Quinn.

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Jones already has turned the page on that Pro Bowl season.

"Last year, was last year," Jones said Tuesday. "It's a totally different year."

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After his mega-season, Jones is expecting even more attention from the league's defensive coordinators.

"I'm going to demand that double coverage," Jones said. "Guys are going to favor me, but it's my job and my ability to go out there and be in shape to be able to pull coverages and go full speed every play."

Jones doesn't mind the attention.

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"It doesn't matter if they are going to roll coverages to me, I'm going to go out there, play hard and be the assist man," Jones said.

Quarterback Matt Ryan believes that the offense can flourish in the second-year under Kyle Shanahan.

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"I think we are a lot farther along at this point than we were last year," Ryan said. "There is no question with us being comfortable in the offense and being on the same page. I think we have gotten some really good work, and the effort has been there."

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In the offseason, the Falcons added a weapon for Ryan in wide receiver Mohamed Sanu and some protection in center Alex Mack.

Also, backup quarterback Matt Schaub, who started his career with the Falcons, and played in the system under Shanahan in Houston, was added.

"It's really understanding what we can do with certain plays and checks and how we can be a little bit better," Schaub said. "Kyle is really good about that."

The Falcons' offense propelled the team to a 6-1 start last season, but things fell apart over the last nine games.

There were rumblings of the unit not adjusting and not being on the same page that caused the production to drop dramatically. Long-time wide receiver Roddy White was released, and the players and coaches have tried to mend the fences over the offseason.

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"I've sat down with Kyle," Jones said. "Kyle sat us down one by one and then talked to us as whole. His biggest thing is communication."

Jones admits that things were in disarray at times last season.

"We were everywhere," Jones said. "Our job is to make sure that we are on the same page with the quarterback because Kyle is coaching the quarterback. He's coaching all of us, but if you're telling the quarterback one thing and our receivers coach is telling us another thing, we are going to be off."

While all parties are working to get on the same page, Jones has embraced his new leadership role. Jones is ready to move forward with wide receivers Sanu and Justin Hardy.

Sanu was signed in free agency and is the team's No. 2 wide receiver.

"He has hit the ground running from Day 1," Jones said. "He's been making great plays. Great finishes. Very explosive. Has great hands."

Hardy, a second-year receiver from East Carolina, made a spectacular one-handed catch in the OTA drills.

"He's going to make great plays for us this upcoming season," Jones said.

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