August 16th, 2011 – By Bryan Cross
Atlanta Falcons rookie receiver Julio Jones made quite an impression around the league after his performance in the team’s preseason opener last week against the Miami Dolphins.
Jones only caught two balls, and an end-around run, but all three were productive and pushed the ball down the field. The sixth-pick overall in April’s draft looks like he might be worth the move to come up and snag him giving up most of their draft picks in the process.
Now, Jones will get his second chance on the field this preseason on Friday night when the Falcons travel South to visit the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Like the Falcons, the Jaguars also lost their first preseason game, though in a 47-12 route to the New England Patriots.
Suffice to say, there is a lot of room for improvement in the Jaguars preseason, with rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert taking the field at home.
“I was just excited to be playing football,” Gabbert said after the game. “It’s preseason and a lot of it you take with a grain of salt.”
The first-round draft pick of the Jaguars completed 9 of 16 passes for 85 yards.
Now, head coach Jack Del Rio is ready for the rookie to make improvements in his second outing, relatively pleased with hoe he progressed in the first.
“I thought (Gabbert) was composed and did a good job making decisions,” Jacksonville head Jack Del Rio said. “He looked like he belonged. It was a good beginning.”
Looking ahead this preseason match up, the Jaguars have been set as a three-point favorite on NFL Preseason Betting Lines on Bodog Sportsbook. Both Atlanta and Jacksonville lost Against The Spread in their first preseason games. The Jaguars will have to win by four points or more to cover in this one, with a field-goal victory resulting in a push.
Atlanta built up a 17-0 lead early in the game, before the starters came out. While the offense is expected to be one of the best in the league, it’s the defense that will look to try and step it up this season from the last.
The Falcons gave up just 267 yards to the Dolphins.
“I think we played well as a defense,” Atlanta defensive end John Abraham said. “I want to see a little more out of the younger guys, but I think they’re growing and helping our defense a lot.”