FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones has waited 11 months to return from a broken right foot and regain his Pro Bowl form.
As he prepares for Sunday’s regular-season opener against New Orleans, Jones says he is ready to wreak havoc on the Saints’ secondary.
“I was down last year. I wasn’t there to help my teammates,” Jones said Thursday. “I feel great, man. I feel like I’m 100 percent right now.”
Jones’ season ended after five games last year, at which he point he led the league in catches and ranked second in yards receiving. The Falcons finished 4-12.
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Jones’ job will be to draw double coverage on deep routes and exploit one-on-one matchups when they are presented on quick slant routes.
Quarterback Matt Ryan also will give receivers Roddy White, Harry Douglas and Devin Hester chances in the passing attack.
“I expect to have double coverage, you know?” Jones said. “If not, I’m going to go out there and make some plays and make something happen. But I’ve got to take my job seriously in those situations.
“I can’t go out there and take plays off because I’m not getting the ball. I’ve still got to go out there and run full speed to try and draw that coverage.”
Attending 49ers games is pricey
NEW YORK – The San Francisco 49ers’ new stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., is the most expensive venue to take a family of four for a game.
Team Marketing Report released its Fan Cost Index, indicating families will have to pay an estimated $641.50 to attend a 49ers game.
The New England Patriots remain the most expensive ticket at $122, the highest average for a non-premium ticket.They are followed by the 49ers at $117.
The average NFL ticket is $84.43, a 3.5 percent increase from last season. The Seahawks’ average is $80.77, ranking 19th in the league.
Cleveland, at $54.20, has the cheapest average ticket.
• The Carolina Panthers are sounding less optimistic quarterback Cam Newton will be ready for Sunday’s regular-season opener at Tampa Bay.
Coach Ron Rivera said he will make a game-time decision on the availability of Newton, who is recovering from fractured ribs.
Newton said he is “on pace” to play, but also talked for the first time about the possibility of sitting out the opener.
• Linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, the first player drafted this year, said he is ready to make his regular-season debut for the Houston Texans after recovering from a concussion.
Clowney left a practice Aug. 20 after a helmet-to-helmet hit with Denver tight end Jacob Tamme and missed Houston’s last two exhibition games.
• The Oakland Raiders have agreed to pay $1.25 million to settle a lawsuit alleging they failed to pay their cheerleaders minimum wage. The two sides will seek approval of the deal, which covers 90 Raiderettes who worked for the team from 2010 to 2013, in Alameda County Superior Court on Sept. 26.
• Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, 54, learned follow-up tests revealed he shows no signs of having sinus cancer.
Kelly’s battle with cancer began in June 2013, when he had surgery to remove cancerous cells in his upper jaw.