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Tuesday, March 1, 2011
The legend of Julio Jones only grows

By Chris Low

Julio Jones has yet to catch his first NFL pass.

But in a league that defines the essence of manhood every Sunday, something tells me Jones will fit right in.

Last season, he set Alabama single-season records with 78 catches and 1,133 receiving yards, and that's despite fracturing his left hand in the sixth game of the season against South Carolina. Jones underwent surgery to have a plate and screws inserted and was back at practice that week. He never missed a game, nor a beat. In fact, two weeks later, he had his best game of the season with a school-record 221 receiving yards and 12 catches against Tennessee.

Julio Jones
Julio Jones was impressive at the combine despite having a fracture in his foot.
More recently, we learn that Jones had a fracture in his foot, which was discovered at the NFL combine, when he blazed away to a 4.39 in the 40-yard dash on Sunday and put on a show in all the other drills. His 11-3 broad jump was two inches away from the combine record.

He weighed in at 220 pounds, too, so it's not like we're talking about a 185-pound guy doing this.

And to do it at less than 100 percent only reinforces what a warrior this guy truly is.

According to those in Jones' camp, the fracture isn't a serious one and was more of a crack that showed up on the scan. It's possibily an injury he played with all or most of the season in 2010.

But, then, Jones' tolerance for pain is legendary. As a freshman, he played through painful wrist and shoulder injuries and then underwent three different surgeries following the season, including one for a sports hernia. A knee problem plagued him as a sophomore and cut into his production the first half of the season, but it was Jones who made one of the plays of the year (a 73-yard touchdown against LSU on a wide receiver screen) in the Crimson Tide's run to the 2009 national championship.

Jones will probably need surgery for this latest injury, to go ahead and get it cleaned up. But he's already run a 4.39 with the injury. So being on the shelf for the next month or two while he recovers shouldn't be much of an issue. Plus, Jones recovers quicker than most mortals.

He's a proven commodity, too, and that's whether he's 75 percent or 100 percent.

And when you get right down to it, how many players in the NFL are even close to 100 percent that last month of the season after 16 long games?

There's a level of toughness required to make it in that league that most of us can't even begin to relate to ... even in our wildest dreams.

Jones epitomizes that toughness.