Atlanta’s top vertical target limited
Julio Jones boasts 15 catches for 247 yards this postseason. But will a particularly vexing case of turf toe limit the Atlanta star’s effectiveness on Super Bowl Sunday?
The injury kept Jones out of practice for most of last week. Even so, oddsmakers at online sports book BetDSI have set his over/under at seven receptions against New England. The All-Pro notched seven games with at least that many catches during the regular campaign.
In the NFC championship tilt, though, Jones went more ballistic than usual. The Alabama product torched Green Bay for 180 yards and two touchdowns. He didn’t even see a lot of second-half snaps due to the lopsided nature of the contest.
If the Falcons opt to keep Jones primarily on the outside, it sets up a fascinating one-on-one duel with Malcolm Butler. The Patriots’ chief ballhawk in the secondary has four interceptions in his past 12 outings (playoffs included). Whether he can consistently jam No. 11 at the line of scrimmage, however, remains to be seen. Jones’ blend of size and athleticism sets him apart from other top wideouts around the league, and he’s certainly got a significant height advantage over Butler.
Jones isn’t the only important Atlanta contributor fighting through a troubling ailment either. Center Alex Mack continues to wrestle with an ankle issue that first surfaced in that 44-21 rout of the Packers. Expect the Pats to dial up immense pressure up the middle and test the veteran anchor’s mobility.