Falcons coach: Jones, Freeman held out of 3rd preseason game
By GEORGE HENRY
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman are healthy and practicing at full speed again this week but will be held out for the third straight preseason game when the Atlanta Falcons visit the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday.
Coach Dan Quinn said the team decided during the offseason not to play Jones, a two-time All-Pro receiver, and Freeman, a former Pro Bowl running back, in exhibitions, so it's likely neither will suit up until Atlanta opens the regular season Sept. 6 at Philadelphia.
Quinn cited the injury history of Jones and Freeman as the reason to keep both players out of preseason games. He indicated that he likely won't change his mind before the Falcons host Miami in the preseason finale Aug. 30.
"That's the plan that we kind of set out with, and I'm staying true to that," Quinn said Tuesday. "If there was something that I felt that they needed, then I would adjust that, but right now that's where I'm headed."
Quinn added that he's not concerned that Jones and Freeman will face the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles without replicating game speed in preseason.
"In those two instances, I think that is the case that we can," Quinn said. "If I had concerns that we wouldn't be able to or I felt like it would be worth doing that, then I certainly I would."
Jones, who leads the NFL in yards receiving average since the Falcons drafted him sixth overall in 2011, started all 18 of Atlanta's last season but didn't practice much because of a hip flexor, a back injury and an ankle injury. He's also had surgery twice on his right foot.
Freeman, who has scored 37 touchdowns in four seasons while averaging 1,207 yards from scrimmage, was sidelined twice last year by a concussion and is coming off a minor knee injury that didn't require surgery.
Neither player has missed practice time since the team reported for training camp last month.
Matt Bryant, sidelined in preseason with an undisclosed injury, is expected to return to kicking on Wednesday. It's unclear if he will be ready to play at Jacksonville.
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Updated August 21, 2018