Scary thought: Julio Jones believes he can take game to another level

"I love to play the game and not have weaknesses," said Julio Jones who had 83 catches for 1,409 yards and six touchdowns last season. Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Julio Jones, arguably the most dangerous threat in the game, isn't satisfied with being "great."

Yes, Jones has put together three consecutive seasons with 1,400-plus receiving yards. Yes, Jones 1,871 receiving yards in 2015 marked the second-highest single-season total in NFL history, right behind Detroit's Calvin Johnson (1,964 in 2012). Yes, Jones went off for a franchise-record 300 yards last season against Carolina. And yes, Jones was recently voted the top receiver and No. 3 overall player in the NFL Network's 2017 Top 100 poll of players, behind only New England's Tom Brady and Denver's Von Miller.

But the Atlanta Falcons All-Pro believes he can take his game to yet another level, just as coach Dan Quinn has challenged Jones and all his players to do in trying to find that "1 percent better" all the time.

Jones is ready to step up to the challenge.

"I always work on everything," Jones said. "My 1 percent is pretty much everything: Getting off the ball, studying, attention to detail, when I'm fatigued, what do I do when I'm fatigued -- do I run with my hands down or keep my hands up with the ball? It's just a lot I do. I love to play the game and not have weaknesses."

The only obstacle that ever seems to get in Jones' way -- since defenders don't -- is injury. He has had multiple foot surgeries, including one in March to remove a burdensome bunion from his left foot. The surgery has kept him from participating in 11-on-11 drills through the first three days of training camp, although Jones sounded optimistic about having more involvement in the days to come. He said he's "confident" and has never let any injury hold him back.

"My foot's great," Jones said. "We're just being smart. I still get my conditioning in. I run routes. I do things. I'm in and out of the huddle. I'm in the scheme. ... I'll probably do a little more tomorrow."

The Falcons simply need Jones to do a lot once the regular season rolls around. Last season, his final numbers -- 83 receptions for 1,409 yards with six touchdowns -- didn't tell the whole story. He missed two games due to the nagging foot injury, so his statistics should have been even more impressive. He's never afraid to throw his body around and block to clear a hole for a teammate. And the times he drew added coverage opened up opportunities for others such as Mohamed Sanu, Taylor Gabriel and tight end Austin Hooper to make big plays.

"There have been some crazy coverages in there, here and there," Jones said. "But we're very talented on offense. When you try to take me away, we've got a lot of guys on the other side that make plays and make you pay."

Jones made such a tremendous impact for MVP Matt Ryan and the league's top-scoring offense despite not being much of a factor in the red zone in 2016. He had four red zone receptions on just eight targets, scoring two touchdowns. Maybe more opportunities would make the 28-year-old the perennial double-digit touchdown guy most expect him to be.

New offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian certainly wants those red zone figures to change.

"When you have a player like Julio, it's making sure we maximize his opportunities because there is so much double coverage, there are so many unique coverages that roll his way that when we don't get that, let's make sure he's one of the primary receivers on that play," Sarkisian said, "because it is such a tough matchup for anybody one-on-one."

The rest of the NFL knows Jones is virtually unstoppable one-on-one. Heck, he's hard to guard even when a second defender is rolled his way. That's why he's such a respected player. That's why his peers voted him the top receiver in the league.

"It felt great to be recognized by your peers and that they think so highly of you," Jones said. "But last year, that was last year. This is a whole new year. I'm in training camp right now trying to get better."

For the rest of the league, that's a scary thought. Just talk to Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, who has to prepare for Jones and the Falcons in Week 4 of the regular season.

Frazier was asked what separates Jones from the rest of the receivers in the league.

"Size, speed, toughness, talent," Frazier said. "He must have a great work ethic and a strong desire to be the best."