Julio Jones already feels at 'home' with Titans, who expect him to lead

Julio Jones has frequently worked with younger receivers in camp on how they can improve their games. Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- After a decade, some habits are hard to break.

Former Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones slipped and mentioned the Falcons when asked about how the Tennessee Titans are handling expectations during his first training camp news conference. He also joked about how he accidentally signs autographs with No. 11 (Jones changed to No. 2 after being traded in June) after wearing the number for 10 years.

But other than that, Jones' adjustment to his new team has been smooth.

"Just the team, Coach [Mike] Vrabel, everything he has done for me to make the transition for me so easy, my teammates, the staff, everyone has been so welcoming," Jones said. "It feels like home. The transition for me has been very, very easy."

Jones said the Titans had been like a family to him "right off the bat."

"The team camaraderie here, me being a veteran guy going to a new organization, you don't know what to expect, right? But when you get there, it is like, 'Wow.' So, I was blown away when I got here," Jones said.

Jones saw his first action in 7-on-7 drills Monday and went right to work with quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who hit him on a seam route 20 yards down the field for a touchdown. The two just missed on a route in the corner of the end zone during the team period. Jones was unable to bring the pass in and stayed on the ground for a moment after he landed before popping up and jogging to the sideline. He went into the building before practice was over.

Vrabel said Jones is fine, but the receiver didn’t practice on Tuesday. Jones spent a large portion of individual periods with fellow receiver A.J. Brown and Tannehill. That's where they work to get on the same page -- especially with their timing at the top of the routes.

"Communication is key," Tannehill said. "I'm talking through what I expect on certain routes. He's telling me what he sees."

Jones also spends extensive time with wide receivers coach Rob Moore and offensive coordinator Todd Downing. Downing has already started to tap into Jones' "wealth of knowledge and great football IQ," as he works to incorporate the All-Pro into the Titans offense.

"It's fun to be able to process through stuff with him and talk about the same concepts that he's run in the past," Downing said. "I'd be a fool of a coach to not take the wisdom off a veteran like him and talk through some of the things he's done in the past and how we can acclimate him to the things that we do here."

Vrabel wanted to set a particular tone before Jones put on a Titans jersey. He wanted to make it clear Jones will be counted on to be a leader.

"One thing I told him was that I am going to hold the best players the most accountable and hope they can then, in turn, do that to the rest of the team," Vrabel said. "I just wanted to make sure he understood that, which he did, and that was something he was very comfortable with. All our conversations and everything that he has done since he has been a member of our team have been positive."

Jones displayed his leadership qualities immediately. Especially for the younger receivers who watch him closely during drills in practice. Jones frequently pulls the younger receivers aside after a rep to give them tips. The veteran receiver's presence at practice is felt, even though he isn't taking part in all periods.

"I'm from Georgia, so I grew up a Falcons fan," second-year wide receiver Mason Kinsey said. "I was in middle school when he got drafted. It's a blessing and is awesome to have the opportunity to learn from guys like him. The first day he came out there, I hadn't even introduced myself, and he was talking to me about what I could do to be better at this and that."

Brown is benefiting from Jones' presence too. He has looked unstoppable at times in camp. There's a bit more bounce to Brown during practice.

The third-year receiver says coming to camp healthy is a big part of it. Having a player in Jones, who he's studied since his days at Ole Miss, is another reason Brown is excited when he takes the field for practice.

"That's another alpha on the other side of me," Brown said as he pointed at Jones. "I have to make plays, and I know he is going to make plays. We are going to go tit-for-tat. I know I don't want to let him down, and I am pretty sure he doesn't want to let me down. We are going to feed off each other. He is going to be in the Hall of Fame, so there's a Hall of Fame receiver on the other side. So, I know I have to pick my game up."

Jones might see fewer targets than he's used to, with Brown getting his share and Derrick Henry's touches out of the backfield.

"My whole career, I've never been a stat guy," Jones said in June. "I am a team guy and just excited to be a part of the organization. Whatever they need me to do, I am going to play my role and play it at a high level."