Mike Smith expects a lot of growth from Julio Jones this offseason

Getty Images

Julio Jones fought through injuries and a limited offseason, but still caught 54 passes for 959 yards and eight touchdowns as a rookie.

That didn’t help the Falcons generate much offense in their playoff loss to the Giants, but it wasn’t a bad start for a guy the Falcons paid heavily to acquire during the 2011 Draft. Now Jones is in the midst of his first full offseason and coach Mike Smith thinks it will result in a leap forward for Jones as a player.

“Julio looks so much more comfortable and has a better understanding of not only what it takes with our system but being a professional football player,” Smith said in an interview on the Falcons website. “He’s just going to continue to get better and better. I thought he had a great season last year and we anticipate the maturation process to continue.”

Jones put together a very strong close to the 2011 season and the offseason work should have him poised to pick up where he left off. Between Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez, the Falcons should have no shortage of targets for Matt Ryan to throw to next season.