Julio Jones to be limited in workouts
"Julio is participating with our athletic performance department,'' Smith said Tuesday. "He will be able to get out on the field and do some walkthrough stuff with us when we start going. Our focus on Julio is one thing, and that's having him prepared for our opener. ... He's progressing well. We're not going to do anything to hinder his timeframe in terms of getting back to work with us."
Jones injured his foot in Week 5 of last season and missed the remainder of the 2013 campaign. Smith previously said Jones was ahead of schedule in his recovery, but the coach never put a timetable on when Jones would start running routes again.
The Falcons began voluntary offseason workouts this week, and quarterback Matt Ryan threw to the rest of his receivers Tuesday morning. Ryan was asked to comment on the status of both Jones and left tackle Sam Baker (who is coming off knee surgery).
"I think both those guys are key for our football team,'' Ryan said. "Sam looks good; looks like he's in really good shape. ... Both those guys look good.''
The Falcons have yet to exercise their fifth-year option on Jones, who was the sixth overall pick in the 2011 draft. He would make $10.176 million in 2015 if the option is picked up by May 3.
Smith avoided addressing the subject directly when asked if the team planned to exercise its fifth-year option with Jones.
"I'm not going to talk about specific contractual situations,'' Smith said. "I do know this: Julio Jones is going to be an Atlanta Falcon for a long, long, long time.''
The 25-year-old Jones is scheduled to make $2,581,875 in 2014 with a cap number of $5,149,375. The one-time Pro Bowler was on pace for more than 1,800 receiving yards last season before suffering the foot injury.
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