As he completed his first practice as a Tennessee Titan, Julio Jones has a message for those who are wondering if he still has anything left to offer after 10 years and coming off a hamstring injury.
“At the end of the day, I believe in me. I know what I have in the tank, and we’re talking about the age is 32. I’m young. In football, you can say that’s old, but you either do it or you don’t. This game don’t change for me,” Jones said. “I’m still fast and I’m still strong.”
As for the hamstring issue, Jones said he didn’t let the injury heal properly and attempted to play through it, causing him to miss seven games in 2020.
“To the games last year, I just had an issue where I didn’t take enough time to heal up properly,” Jones said. “But that was just my decision of going out there and playing, so no excuses or anything like that. I’ll be ready to go. For those questioning my health and things like that, just stay tuned.”
Jones was grateful to the Falcons organization and the city of Atlanta, but stated that he is excited to join the Titans.
“I want to thank Atlanta. It was home to me for the last decade, the fan base, the Atlanta Falcons, the whole organization. They gave me an opportunity to showcase my ability and what I could do,” he said. “Being here with the Titans, I love it. I’m excited to be part of this organization and just the team camaraderie, just the whole atmosphere and everything about it feels like when I was in college at the University of Alabama.”
When it became clear that the Titans were a contender to land Jones in a trade, the veteran wide receiver did a little bit of homework on the organization, though he said he could only really experience the situation once he arrived.
At one point during individual work, Jones received a welcoming hug on the practice field from Titans general manager Jon Robinson.
“I know guys that are on the team like Derrick and A.J. Terry Robiskie was here, and Harry Douglas was here, and things like that,” he said. “Just knowing about the organization then, but you have to be here to understand the feeling here as far as the fan base and the way they treat you. It’s unconditional. You just feel like that if you go out there and give your all, they’re gonna be behind you, no matter what happens.”
Titans coach Mike Vrabel welcomed Jones to camp and already has him learning the system and meeting his new teammates.
“We just wanted to get him in here and get him acclimated to everything. Every place is different, but it is exciting to get him in here, go through our meetings, to start to learn his teammates and figure out who those people are and how they interact, as well as some of our offense – the installation,” Vrabel said.
Jones said he has already had dinner with his new quarterback, Ryan Tannehill prior to practice. On Thursday, he caught a red zone pass off a skinny post route from his quarterback during the light session of OTA work to break the ice there.
“I don’t think it’s going to take time at all. He’s a veteran player, and I’m a veteran player and it’s just repetitions at the end of the day,” Jones said.
As for the role he will fill, Jones’ words were probably music to Vrabel’s ears in that, despite his Hall of Fame qualifications, Jones says the team comes first.
“I’ve never been a stat guy. I’m a team guy. I’m just excited to be a part of the organization and whatever they need me to do, I’ll do it and fit my role and do it at a high level,” he said.