FLOWERY BRANCH – It’s just the exhibition season, but the NFL’s version of Green vs. Jones I is set for 8 p.m. Thursday night at the Georgia Dome.
The Falcons and the Bengals didn’t play last season, when the two highly touted receivers — A.J. Green and Julio Jones — were rookies. Because of their SEC roots at Georgia and Alabama and high draft status, the two will be intertwined throughout their NFL careers.
After getting routed by Green Bay in the playoffs, the Falcons determined before the 2011 draft that they were going to get more explosive on offense.
During the humbling second half against the Packers, the franchise realized that despite being the NFC’s No. 1 seed, they’d gotten in a shootout with the Packers and didn’t have enough bullets.
They sent a large contingent of personnel men to Georgia’s Pro Day to see Green and they heavily scouted Jones, who dazzled at the scouting combine while running with a stress fracture in his foot.
In the end, the price was too steep to move up to the fourth spot for Green. But the Falcons pulled the trigger by trading five picks to the Cleveland Browns to move up 21 spots to select Jones with the sixth overall pick.
Green and Jones are both expected to play well into the second quarter. Here’s a link to one of the diaries I did with Green leading up to the draft.
“We feel very good about what Julio has added to our offensive football team,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “He’s a guy that’s just going to continue to get better. It was a great start last week, and again we just want to reiterate that was just a start.”
Green and Jones both helped their teams reach the playoffs last season and were named to Pro Football Weekly’s all-rookie team, as voted on by Pro Football Weekly and the Professional Writers of America.
Green caught 65 passes for 1,057 yards and had seven touchdown receptions.
Jones hauled down 54 passes for 959 yards and eight touchdowns.
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