FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- As the Atlanta Falcons returned to practice Monday, one significant starter watched from the sideline.
Right guard Jon Asamoah, one of the team's top acquisitions this offseason, was held out of practice with an unspecified injury. Asamoah exited Saturday's preseason game against the Tennessee Titans earlier than the rest of the starting offensive line. He was replaced by Harland Gunn.
Coach Mike Smith was asked about Asamoah's status.
"Jon Asamoah was held out for precautionary reasons for practice today, and we don't anticipate that it will be any issues at all for him moving forward," Smith said.
Smith declined to comment about the injury.
"We're getting too close to the first game to be talking about injuries," Smith said. "We're out of camp. Hope you guys respect us for that."
Wide receiver Julio Jones, who scored a 52-yard catch-and-run touchdown in Saturday's 24-17 loss to the Titans, said he's still getting up to speed. Jones practiced Monday as he continues to be back on a normal schedule. "I can get up to speed good, I can't hold it as long as I want to hold it, like, over the course of a game," said Jones, who returned from last year's season-ending foot surgery. "The way I play, even in the running game and everything, I want to be able to do that the whole game full speed. I don't feel like I'm there yet." Based on his touchdown, it sure looked like Jones is the same player of old.
Besides running back Steven Jackson making his return from a left hamstring injury Monday, the Falcons also got back offensive lineman Gabe Carimi from an ankle injury and tight end Mickey Shuler back from a concussion. Carimi is in the mix at the right tackle spot along with current starter Lamar Holmes and Ryan Schraeder. "There's still a lot of evaluating to do, not only at the right tackle position, but at all of the positions," Smith said. Specifically, Smith said no one has won the backup quarterback spot or nickel back job just yet. Sean Renfree, who stayed late following Monday's practice, seems to have the edge over T.J. Yates. At nickel, incumbent Robert McClain seems to be in good position ahead of Javier Arenas and Josh Wilson.
Extra points: Smith on Desmond Trufant absorbing blame for the 63-yard touchdown against the Titans: "I know he stood up and said, 'Hey, it's on me.' That's being a great teammate. I think it's good for all of us for guys to step up and say that. But it's a team game. It's not a one-person game." ... Smith wouldn't say which players would be held out of Thursday's final preseason game, but one can expect the primary starters to sit. He didn't rule out rookie Prince Shembo playing alongside Joplo Bartu at inside linebacker ... Rookie safety Dez Southward, who suffered a head injury against Tennessee and appears to be going through the concussion protocol, did not practice Monday. ... Outside linebacker Jacques Smith and Tyler Starr stayed late after practice working on their pass-rush moves.