Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones recorded 54 catches for 959 yards and eight touchdowns during his rookie season, despite missing three games. The Falcons expect growth from Jones in his second year and incumbent top receiver Roddy White anticipates a lesser role for himself, which suggests Jones may be the focal point of Atlanta’s new offense.
Appearing on SportsCenter Wednesday, ESPN’s Jerry Rice nominated Jones as his top breakout wide receiver for 2012.
“I love this kid,” said Rice. “He’s awesome. He’s big, he’s fast. … I think he’s gonna have a breakout season this coming year.”
Jones ran most of his pass patterns down the sideline last season, while White and tight end Tony Gonzalez racked up underneath catches. When Jones did go over the middle, he was particularly dominant.
If new Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter expands Jones’ role in the short and intermediate passing attack, we suspect Rice’s pre-training camp prediction will look awfully good once 16 games are in the books.