FLOWERY BRANCH — Here’s everything you need to know about the Falcons (3-0), who face the Houston Texans (1-2) at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Georgia Dome, this morning:
- The Falcons have a closed morning walk-through before coach Dan Quinn meets with the media at 12:10 p.m. The team will return to field for practice at 1:05 p.m. The first 30 minutes are open to the media. Wide receiver Julio Jones who spoke to the Houston media on the conference call (transcript below) will talk to the local media during open locker room. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will talk after practice. (Hope he's ready for some questions on how Roddy White has vanished from the offense.)
- When the team takes the field, we’ll be looking for returner Devin Hester (turf toe), linebacker Brooks Reed (groin), linebacker Paul Worrilow (calf), running back Tevin Coleman (fractured rib) and Jones, who was held out of practice on Wednesday. Hester was limited in the walk-through and did not practice. But he went to practice with his helmet and shoulder pads.
- Check out the Mike-Check c olumn by Michael Cunningham. He’s our resident analytics guy and finds some numbers to suggest the Falcons are 2 Legit to Quit.
- Quinn noted that Jake Long is coming back from major surgery and that he’ll compete with Bryce Harris for the backup swing tackle spot when healthy. “He’s getting closer to helping us,” Quinn said. “I think the thing we have to remember with Jake is that he had a significant knee injury. It’s not like he was coming in healthy. For him, he is working hard. He’s getting better every week. I feel pleased with where he’s headed. But I think we have to remember that, too. Let’s make sure that he’s at his best for our team. I love the way he’s working at it.”
- The Falcons have a 75 percent chance of making the playoffs. Get your questions ready for Falcons Fan Mailbag today from 11 am to Noon on AJC.com!!!
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter and CineSport’s Noah Coslov discuss what's led to Julio Jones' big numbers, the Falcons’ first half struggles and the challenges ahead against the Texans on Sunday.
Falcons WR Julio Jones Conference Call with the Houston Media on Wednesday
(on the reason for his big start to the season) “We’re just playing good as a team, as an offensive unit. We’re just playing really well right now.”
(on facing former Alabama teammate CB Kareem Jackson) “I know he’s going to be competitive. He’s going to come play. He’s going to play for four quarters, just the way he was taught at Alabama.”
(on if he knows WR DeAndre Hopkins) “I do not. I know of him, but I haven’t watched his game or anything.”
(on what he thinks of WR DeAndre Hopkins) “Like I said, I haven’t watched him. But I think I saw an episode of Hard Knocks. He looks like a very talented young receiver, but I can’t really say more than that because I haven’t really watched him.”
(on his development and emergence) “Just hard work and dedication, just wanting to be the best, and coming to work every day. My teammates allow me to do so, as far as the receiver room, the linemen, the quarterbacks, and the running backs.”
(on if his numbers surprise him) “Not at all. I feel like I’m capable of doing any and everything. I just got to come to work every day. The main thing is staying healthy.”
(on training with DE J.J. Watt before they got drafted) “We were coming out together in Phoenix. We trained together coming out.”
(on if he’s surprised by the emergence of Texans DE J.J. Watt) “He had the work ethic there. People didn’t know that because they weren’t there working with you every day. Just like your teammates now, when someone starts doing good, people are like ‘Oh, where did this guy come from?’ If you’ve seen the work ethic that guy has and the motor, you knew he was going to be special.”
(on his chemistry with QB Matt Ryan) “We can basically now just look at each other and kind of signal routes or know what each other is thinking and we can just go from there. It depends on what the defense is giving you.”
(on OLB Jadeveon Clowney) “Another great athlete. Definitely a game wrecker. Those guys, you just got to double those guys. We got to get chips and things on those guys to try and slow them down. You can’t contain those guys, you can just slow them down.”
(on if the Georgia Dome feels like a fast surface) “No, every surface is the same to me. 53 yards wide, 100 yards deep.”
(on recovering from his injury from a few years ago) “Every year I try to get better, it doesn’t matter what it is, as far as catching the ball and running routes. Things are going to happen. Those things are out of my control. I can’t prevent those things that happened already. It’s over with. It’s done. I’m 100 percent now. To answer your question, like I said, I just go out there and try to be at my best. Whatever happens, happens. I can go out there and catch one pass, as long as my team wins, I did my job and I’m
(on if he compares himself to other NFL wide receivers) “No, I don’t watch other receivers. I really don’t watch football when I have down time.”
(on what he does in his down time) “Throughout the week, I’m just in the playbook.”
(on if he is a little surprised by what he’s doing) “No, not at all.”
(on why he’s not surprised by his performances) “I feel like I can do better. There’s always – you can never play a perfect game. There are some calls and stuff out there that I haven’t executed properly in the first three games, so I just got to continue to keep working and try to get better.”
COWBOYS GAME COVERAGE -- Falcons 39, Cowboys 28