FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones admitted the training staff tried to keep him from returning in the fourth quarter of last Sunday’s loss to the Patriots after he suffered a leg injury. Jones suffered the injury with 6 minutes, 12 seconds remaining in regulation after absorbing a hit from Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty. Jones flew out of bounds then rubbed his left thigh as he remained on his knees.
"It was just the initial hit, I was like, 'Wow.' But it was just like a little stinger," Jones told ESPN.com. "It was nothing drastic. It was nothing serious. I went back out there and I finished the game."
The "stinger" apparently did not result in any swelling. Although Jones sat out practice Tuesday, he was limited in practice Thursday with what was labeled as a ``knee'' issue. That lingering problem is unrelated to what happened to his leg last Sunday.
Immediately after he returned against the Patriots, Jones made a leaping, 20-yard grab in double coverage. He made another acrobatic catch for a 49-yard pickup during the Falcons’ final desperation drive. Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter raved about Jones battling back from the leg injury to make those plays. Jones finished with six catches for 108 yards, his third-consecutive game with 100-plus yards receiving.
"To his credit, he came back and made two of the prettiest catches you’ll ever see, where he might have been done for the day," Koetter said. "He came back in and kind of got us back in it there at the end. They were nice throws by Matt (Ryan), but great catches by Julio."
Ryan praised his receiver’s toughness.
"He’s a great player for us," Ryan said of Jones. "We know he’s a competitor. That’s one thing that’s been consistent since he’s been here. He’ll go out there and compete for 60 minutes. And he’ll make plays even when he’s not at 100 percent."