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Thursday, June 26, 2014
White, Jones ready to reclaim top status

By Vaughn McClure

Most of the folks over at the World Cup probably weren't aware that arguably the top receiver tandem in American football was in their presence this week.

Julio Jones and Roddy White of the Atlanta Falcons bolted to Brazil immediately after minicamp concluded. Before leaving on their trek, the two stated their claim of being the best pair of pass-catchers in the NFL.

"When you step on the field, you should feel that you're the best, you and whoever your partner is," Jones said. "I feel like me and Roddy, we're the best when we step on the field. We take it as a challenge every year: We want to go out and show everybody we're the best one-two in the league."

Earlier this summer, Chicago Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery made a case that he and Brandon Marshall were the league's top duo based on the 2,716 combined yards and 19 touchdowns they compiled on 189 catches last year for the 8-8 Bears, who missed the playoffs. The year before, White and Jones combined for 2,549 yards and 17 touchdowns on 171 catches for a 13-3 Falcons team that lost in the NFC title game. And retired tight end Tony Gonzalez actually led the team that year with 93 catches.

Of course last season, Jones played in just five games after suffering a season-ending fracture in his right foot while White was hobbled by hamstring and ankle injuries, so there was no true comparison.

"Numbers don't lie: They did a good job last year," White said of Marshall and Jeffery. "We weren't there to play in the party. But this year, we're going to be there to play in the party. So at the end of the season, we'll come together, and then we'll see what happens."

Marshall is a proven veteran with seven consecutive 1,000-yard seasons to his credit while Jeffery emerged as a second-year player last season.

White had a streak of six-consecutive 1,000-yard seasons snapped last year while Jones has been viewed as the same type of explosive receiver as Calvin Johnson, when healthy.

"I've had respect for Brandon Marshall and what he can do on the field," White said. "We compete every year. I call him before the season starts and we go at it. Him and Alshon right now, they're at the top of the charts because they had an outstanding year last year.

"But this is 2014, and we cannot rest on what we did in 2013. This is a new year, and we're going to be ready to go."