With Julio Jones out the remainder of the season with a foot injury and Roddy White still nursing an ankle sprain, Harry Douglas and a inexperienced receiving core will l look to fill the void left by Atlanta’s two most explosive players.
Harry Douglas will headline an all new receiving corp at the Dome this Sunday.
When Julio Jones went down for the season, so did many fan’s hopes. What he brought to the field — power, speed, explosiveness, and knack for the big play — can not easily be replaced. Before his injury, Julio was on pace for his best year yet. His numbers stretched out over a 16-game span look something like…
Yards – 1,856
Catches – 131
Touchdowns – 6 (Obviously this number would’ve been higher)
I don’t know about you guys, but those numbers look elite to me. It’s safe to say that if Julio stayed healthy he would’ve established himself as a top-5 receiver this year (if he hasn’t already in your eyes). Now that he’s gone for the year, a few unfamiliar/younger players on the roster will have a chance to make a name for themselves.
Harry Douglas, the 6th year underutilized slot receiver, already has something of a rapport with Matt Ryan; therefore his workload is sure to increase. But, there are a few lesser known names hoping to make an impact. Kevin Cone, Drew Davis, free agent signee Brian Robiskie, and recently promoted practice squad member Darius Johnson are all looking to fill a role now that their window of opportunity is open.
Falcon fans should find themselves familiar with these names. WRs Cone, Davis, and Johnson all got playing time in the preseason, but they’re playing under a different spotlight. They won’t be lining up against second and third-team scrubs, they will be facing a Tampa Bay secondary that has pro-bowlers/all-pros looking to welcome them to the regular season.
Still, I’m excited to see what these young players can do. I’ll be keeping an eye on Cone… The 6-2 speedster from Georgia Tech is explosive, and he can make a few plays when given the opportunity (had a nice TD catch vs. the Eagles last season). Drew Davis, the 6-1 receiver from Oregon, is the lesser known of the two, but the Falcons kept him around for a reason. Both are two-year pros looking to make a splash in the regular season, so look for them to work their a** off and play fast…There’s nothing scarier than a young, hungry player looking to prove their doubters wrong. One of them could be the next great “underdog” story ala Arian Foster.
Darius Johnson, the 5’10 rookie from Southern Methodist, had a lot of fans excited after his play in the preseason. If Cone or Davis doesn’t work out, he should look for his name to get called. Brian Robiskie, the 6’4 5th-year receiver out of Ohio State will have the opportunity to work with his father Terry. While I’m sure Brian will work his hardest to keep a spot on the roster, I hope he’s prepared to hear all the father-son jokes in the locker room…
Even though the word around Flowery Branch is that Tony Gonzalez will get more targets, Ryan is a QB that likes to spread the ball around. These young core will have to get in where they fit in quickly and step up whenever their name is called to make a lasting impression on the coaching staff in Atlanta (and possibly other teams).