BIRDLAND — Hall of Famer Jerry Rice is clearly a reader of the blog.
He has taken note of the fact that second-year wide receiver Julio Jones won our coveted minicamp MVP award.
Rice, who made it a practice of torching the Falcons secondary on a regular basis during the old NFC West
days, believes that Jones will be the league’s breakout pass-catcher for 2012.
“I love this kid,” Rice said on ESPN’s SportsCenter, per ProFootballTalk.com. “He’s awesome. He’s big, he’s fast. …I think he’s gonna have a breakout season this coming year.”
Jones put up impressive numbers last season after the Falcons sent five picks to Cleveland to move up 21 spots in the draft.
He played in 11 full games — he left two games early – and led all rookies with eight touchdowns. He was second in yards with 959, just 98 yards less than Bengals rookie A.J. Green, and third with 54 receptions.
Falcons coach Mike Smith told us yesterday that he expects the offense to receive a boost from Jones and second-year running back Jacquizz Rodgers.
“Julio had a very good year for us last year and so did Jacquizz,” Smith said. “I think they’ll be integral parts of the success we have this year.”
For the record, Rice, the league’s all-time reception leader, played 29 games against the Falcons and had a 20-8-1 record. He had 175 catches, 2,731 yards and 25 touchdowns against the Falcons. All of those marks were career-highs against one team for Rice. Numbers courtesy of Pro Football Reference.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog