The Atlanta Falcons will once again refrain from using star wide receiver Julio Jones and running back Devonta Freeman in their third preseason game this Saturday, according to head coach Dan Quinn, who added that the two will “likely” not play until the regular-season opener.
Jones and Freeman have each sat out the Falcons’ first two preseason games despite being healthy and practicing.
“Really had the plan of going through the spring, based on some of their injury history, I knew we wanted to ramp their work up on camp but maybe not give them the reps in the game,” Quinn told reporters Tuesday. “That’s the plan we kind of set out with and stayed true to that. If there was something that I felt they needed, then I would adjust that. But right now, that’s where we’re headed.”
Jones hauled in 88 catches for 1,444 yards and three touchdowns last season despite recovering from foot surgery and a hip flexor injury. The 29-year-old declared himself 100 percent healthy upon his return to the team following a contract dispute this summer.
Freeman, 26, had 865 rushing yards and seven scores in 14 games last season. He dealt with ligament damage in his right knee toward the end of the campaign and has a history of concussions.
The Falcons play the Jacksonville Jaguars this weekend before facing the Miami Dolphins in their final preseason game on Aug. 30. From there, Atlanta opens the regular season against the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles on Sept. 6.
Quinn said that he’s “not concerned” when asked about not getting his key offensive players any game reps before the regular season.
“It’s kind of like the trade off to say, ‘Can they practice at the high enough speed that we can get them ready to go?’” he said. “In those two instances, I think that’s the case — that we can. If I had concerns that we wouldn’t be able to do or I felt like it was worth [playing them], I certainly would.”
—Field Level Media