Falcons’ starters Julio Jones, Sean Weatherspoon out for preseason opener

8/7/13 in NFL   |   IvanRogers   |   1352 respect

FanIQ | Sports Rumors, Gossip, Blogs, News & Discussion ForumsInjuries are a common sight around training camps this time of the year. But with the start of the preseason just a few days away, it usually means that a few teams could be missing some key contributors when they step onto the field in a real game scenario for the first time since the offseason. The Atlanta Falcons find themselves under similar conditions, with starters Julio Jones and Sean Weatherspoon expected to sit out the preseason opener.
 
Falcons coach Mike Smith announced Tuesday that his young star receiver Julio Jones will be not playing when the team host the Cincinnati Bengals for the preseason contest on Thursday.
 
“Julio Jones has had tightness in his hamstrings and we will keep him out of the game on Thursday,” Smith said after the Falcons-Bengals’ second joint practice on Tuesday. “It is a precautionary move.”
 
Smith clearly believes Jones’ injury is not serious as the Falcons only pulled him out of Monday’s practice as a “precautionary move.” Jones’ participation on limited basis in the Tuesday’s walk-through is another encouraging sign that the Falcons seem to know where he is at in terms of his health.  The team wouldn’t rush him back, though Jones is expected to be ready to go for the regular season.
 
Jones has been having a solid offseason so far, gaining praise form coaches and teammates as the 24-year-old comes across as even quicker than he did in his first two seasons. A first-round pick by the Falcons in the 2011 NFL draft, Jones had a stellar sophomore campaign, playing all 16 games despite ankle and hand injuries last season. Jones racked up 79 receptions for 1,198 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, and was expected to improve on those numbers into his third season with the Falcons.
 
Smith also confirmed that the Falcons will be also missing linebacker Sean Weatherspoon in Thursday’s game. Weatherspoon is out indefinitely with a dislocated finger he suffered in Monday’s practice, with the injury eventually resulting in an open wound. He was also held out of Tuesday’s walk-though.
 
"Yesterday in practice, Sean Weatherspoon injured his left hand. It was an open dislocation,” Smith said. “We are going to keep him out and the time frame is going to be based on how quick the wound heals. It's a matter of the wound healing."
 
However, Smith added that Weatherspoon did not break any bones in his hand. Anyhow, compared with Jones, Weatherspoon’s injury apparently seems more serious and could force him out for a longer period.
 
The fourth-year player Weatherspoon was the Falcons’ second-leading tackler last season after registering 95 tackles over 13 starts. He also had three sacks and an interception.
 
The Bengals will also be missing a pair of starters Thursday with receiver A.J. Green out due to a bruised knee and left tackle Andrew Whitworth missing time with a sore knee following offseason arthroscopic surgery. Reserve receiver  Andrew Hawkins will also sit out Thursday’ contest with a sore ankle.
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