As the Atlanta Falcons return to organized team activities this week, they'll be without top receiver Julio Jones, of course, as the coaches continue to take it slowly with him coming off foot surgery.
The public hasn't seen Jones doing any sort of activities since Oct. 7 of last year, when he fractured his foot against the New York Jets. Head coach Mike Smith reiterated how Jones is on schedule for training camp.
Wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie is cautiously optimistic about Jones' return, although not seeing the receiver do any type of on-field work at this point would appear to be a cause for concern.
"The day I can see him come out and just run and practice at full speed, practice all day and get up the next day and practice again, certainly then I'm going to feel he's back,'' Robiskie said. "I think every day, we'll be out there with him with caution. We'll be watching him a little bit kind of standing on pins and needles. I think if he jumps in the air to catch the ball, if he jumps on top of some [defensive back] and some DB is under him, you're nervous.
"But again, I don't know if it's necessarily that I'm nervous that Julio is jumping in the air catching the ball. You're just nervous when one of your guys is jumping up to catch the ball. ... You're nervous about two guys and their feet getting tangled up. You're nervous about their knees getting [knocked].''
Robiskie watched his top two receivers get bit with injury bug last season. Besides Jones, No. 2 receiver Roddy White endured ankle and hamstring issues that limited his effectiveness for a good part of the season.
White missed the start of OTAs while mourning the death of his younger brother, so his status for the remainder of the offseason remains unclear.
Once Jones and White are back on the field together and at full strength, the Falcons will possess one of the top receiver tandems in the league. With White set to turn 33, the 25-year-old Jones will be counted upon to be the game-changer in the offense.
"At what point in time do you say he's back? Just after I see him go to work and practice and all of a sudden I look up, and we're playing the New Orleans Saints,'' Robiskie said of Jones. "When it's opening day and he catches one down the sideline and takes off and go, he's back for me.''
Update: Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff provided this update on Jones.