Even Julio Jones was caught off guard when someone mentioned all the various body parts he’s had to nurse back to health this season.
Ribs. Thumb. Knee. Hip. Back. Ankle.
The ankle twice Bennie Fowler III Jersey , in fact.
”Whew! All that?” he asked, sounding a bit incredulous.
Then, with a slight smile and shaking his head, Jones added, ”Long season, man. Long season.”
He’s got a routine to cope with all the aches and pains.
During the week, Jones is often limited in practice or doesn’t even take the field. But by the time the game rolls around, he’s always ready to go.
”He has a real process to do that,” coach Dan Quinn said. ”We’re fortunate that he’s played with injuries and kind of knows the routine of how to do it.”
That will be the case again for Saturday’s NFC divisional playoff game against the top-seeded Philadelphia Eagles .
After sitting out two days of practice with a sore ankle and going through a limited routine Thursday at the final full workout before the game, the star receiver will be in the starting lineup for the 18th consecutive time this season.
”The thing with being injured, it’s really just blocking it out,” Jones said. ”Don’t use it as an excuse.”
Quinn noted that the Falcons usually have an extensive walk-through before each practice, and that’s a session that Jones rarely misses no matter how much he’s hurting. He uses the time to get familiar with the game plan, run some routes and hone his timing with quarterback Matt Ryan.
If Jones is limited during the actual practice, he focuses on plays in which he’ll likely be the primary receiver.
”We try to feature him on plays that are unique for him and Matt to be at full speed,” Quinn said. ”When he goes Trey Hopkins Jersey , it’s these full-speed, aggressive routes. So that helps him as far as the timing goes.”
Jones has been on the injury report eight of the last 10 weeks, along with two other weeks early in the season.
None of the injuries were serious enough to keep him from playing, but they did require plenty of tender loving care to make sure there were no setbacks. That’s why, over the course of the last four months, the injury report has listed him as limited or out of practice more times than he’s fully participated.
Game day is a different story.
”If you say you’re gonna go, go. Don’t bring it up in the middle of the game,” he said. ”We know it hurts. Don’t let your mind be negative. Just stay positive. If something’s hurting or anything like that, I never relay it back to (the sideline). I know it hurts. You don’t want to talk about it and bring that stuff up during the game. If I suit up, I’m going. I’m not saying anything about it.”
A turning point in Jones’ pain threshold came during his sophomore season at Alabama. He broke his left hand in a game, had surgery the next day and was cleared to play the following week.
He wasn’t at his best.
”I was a little timid to catch just because of the pain,” Jones recalled. ”It was messing with me mentally.”
Since then, he’s learned to block out his various injuries.
”It’s gonna hurt,” Jones said. ”But I’m out here. I made the decision to be out here. I don’t care about it hurting.”
Jones’ production dipped this season, part of a wider drop-off under first-year offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, and there have been a few more drops than previous seasons – most notably Pierre Desir Jersey , what should have been an easy 39-yard touchdown catch in a November loss at Carolina .
But, overall, it’s been another huge season for Jones. He had 88 catches for 1,444 yards – an average of 90.3 per game – and earned second-team honors on The Associated Press All-Pro team.
He’s usually even better in the playoffs.
Last week, he had nine catches for 94 yards and a touchdown with just under 6 minutes remaining that finished off a 26-13 upset of the Los Angeles Rams in the wild-card round.
”It’s win or go home,” Jones said. ”I’m not a numbers guy. Whatever it takes to get the win.”
Jones also got to do a bit of gloating this week after his alma mater won another national championship with a 26-23 overtime victory over Georgia.
Not that he had any doubt about the outcome. Jones didn’t attend the game, even though it was held at the Falcons’ home stadium, and insisted that he went to bed before halftime.
”I was out,” he said. ”I didn’t learn (the score) until the next morning. I was like, `Oh, that was a good game.”’
Someone noticed he wasn’t wearing any Alabama gear.
No need to rub it in, he quipped.
”When you’re accustomed to things,” Jones said, trying to hold back a smile, ”you don’t brag.”
MINNEAPOLIS — After wearing the same uniform for the past four seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays, Alex Cobb and Jake Odorizzi face off Sunday as Cobb’s Baltimore Orioles try to avoid a sweep when they take on Odorizzi and the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
With the Rays in a full-blown rebuild Aaron Lynch Jersey , both pitchers found new homes this past spring. Odorizzi was traded to Minnesota early in spring training while Cobb was one of the many free agents who waited out an unnerving winter before eventually signing a four-year, $57 million deal with Baltimore late in camp.
Now, only a week away from the All-Star break, neither pitcher — nor his team — is having the kind of season they anticipated Opening Day.
It’s been especially painful for Cobb (2-10, 6.53 ERA), whose deal was the largest offered to an Orioles pitcher. The right-hander was expected to be a stabilizing force in a rotation that had designs on a postseason berth but instead, he slumped out of the gate and went 2-9 with a 7.14 ERA through his first 12 starts in an Orioles’ uniform.
Through that, there have been flashes of the pitcher Baltimore had in mind when it made the deal. He’s held opponents to three earned runs or fewer in eight of his 15 starts overall, including his last time out when he held the Phillies to three while striking out five in 6 2/3 innings.
“Alex is going to be a good pitcher,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He is a good pitcher at times this year. It’s hard. It’s hard. He’s hardened from pitching in the American League. He knows the fine line between success and failure.”
With his team holding baseball’s worst record and buried in the basement of a division dominated by the Yankees and Red Sox, Cobb knows the playoffs aren’t even a pipe dream at this point. But he still has a goal of finishing the season strong and setting the stage for a bounce-back campaign in 2019.
“I don’t want to say take it almost spring training-like, but we have to do whatever it takes for each and every one of us to get better going forward,” Cobb said. “When you get hung up on results, I think that you let that cloud the process that’s going on to make yourself get better. I don’t want it to be framed to any fans or front office, coaching staff, that we’re not going out there trying to win ballgames. We absolutely are Mike Ditka Jersey , every single night.
“But we also need to not be so result-oriented and take the small progressions that we’re making and get better. If we want to compete later on this year, next year, we need to get better each and every one of us — individually.”
Cobb is 2-0 with a 2.20 ERA in three starts versus Minnesota.
Things haven’t been much better in the Twin Cities, where Odorizzi (3-6, 4.57 ERA) was expected to be a key addition to a Twins team that was thought to be a contender with Cleveland for the AL Central title after making an unexpected trip to the American League wild-card game a year ago.
He opened the year on a high note, going 3-2 with a 3.17 ERA through his first 10 outings but has struggled with consistency since, posting a 6.81 ERA over his last eight starts.
“It’s upsetting and frustrating … it’s not something I take lightly,” Odorizzi said of his struggles late last month. “I take a lot of pride in getting guys out. Trust me, I’m more frustrated about this than anybody in this clubhouse. This has been one of the tougher stretches in my short big-league career.”
Odorizzi has shown signs of bouncing back in his last two outings. He held the White Sox scoreless for six innings, allowing three hits while striking out eight, but took a no-decision June 28 in Chicago and followed that with a strong showing in Milwaukee where the Brewers managed only two runs while striking out nine times over five innings.
Odorizzi, who hasn’t won since May 8, is 5-4 with a 4.42 ERA in 19 games (18 starts) versus Baltimore.
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