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Falcons receiving corps feels unstoppable

POSTED: June 7, 2013 7:25 p.m.
Photo by Jared Putnam For the Forsyth County News/

Atlanta Falcons wide receivers Julio Jones (11) and Harry Douglas play catch during organized team activities this past week. The duo made up part of the NFL’s most productive receiving corps last season.

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FLOWERY BRANCH — You’d think having a wide receiver tandem of Julio Jones and Roddy White would make a coach’s job easy, but Atlanta Falcons’ offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter finds it a challenge.

The Falcons’ organized team activity was open to the media on Wednesday in Flowery Branch, home to the Falcons’ training facility. Atlanta finished the 2012 season 14-4, thanks in large part to its elite receiving corp.

"It makes it hard; you’ve got to keep them all happy," Koetter said with a laugh. "We are blessed to have the guys that we have and, you know, it’s fun to work with those guys. They’re all great pros, they care about the team, they care about winning. It all starts with the protection and the quarterback, obviously, in all the things they do, but it’s just great to have guys who can make plays."

And make plays they did. Jones finished the season with 1,198 yards and 10 touchdowns, while White added 1,351 yards and 7 touchdowns for the duo to combine for 2,549 yards on 171 catches for 17 touchdowns. The two ranked No.1 in the NFL in receiving yards, topping Denver’s Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker by 51 yards.

White is only the fifth player in NFL history to top the 90-catch mark and gain 1,200 or more yards in three straight seasons. Not to be outdone, Jones boasted a 182-yard, two-touchdown performance in the NFC Championship game against San Francisco, breaking the Falcons’ record for playoff receiving yards in a game, held by Alfred Jenkins in 1981 with 155.

"You can’t [stop the offense]," Jones said. "I mean, it’s impossible because we’ve got so many great weapons on this team. …We’re always trying to get better. Every day when we practice we try to get better. We are competing against each other.

"We’re trying to make our defense better, too. We have a couple of young cornerbacks and we have to just keep going out there and playing our ball and just making them come up to our level. And I feel like that will make us an overall better team."

Koetter enters his second season as the Falcons’ offensive coordinator and the familiarity with his offense is already paying dividends for Jones.

"[The game] is slowing down for me," Jones said. "Just knowing what to do, and being in it for a while, I’m able to coach the younger guys now. You know, last year I was still kind of learning because we had a new offensive coordinator with Dirk and everything, so now I can teach the younger guys what to do and [perfect] my craft."

Head coach Mike Smith was impressed with the offense and said the best is still yet to come.

"I think they can continue to get better," Smith said. "The guy that’s distributing the ball is going to be better. Julio is going to be a more polished player. Harry [Douglas] continues to mature and of course what Roddy has done; he has a long track record. …They haven’t reached their ceiling."

 

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