Jones, Robiskie form tight bond with Falcons
FLOWERY BRANCH, GA. (AP)
Nearly every time Julio Jones reports to work, the second-year Atlanta
receiver seeks out position coach Terry Robiskie.
Their ongoing dialogue started at training camp two years ago and
hasn't let up.
Jones wouldn't have it any other way.
''Terry isn't going to sugarcoat anything,'' Jones said on Friday. ''If
you mess up, you mess up, but he's going to show you how to correct it
and what you need to look for.''
It's not hard to see why Jones credits Robiskie with helping him make
the NFC Pro Bowl squad last month. On the sideline during games and at
practice, Jones is likely standing next to his coach constantly to ask
questions and get advice.
Their conversations are give-and-take, but both men say that it's never
to the extent that Jones complains about being misunderstood.
Rather, Robiskie wants to know exactly what Jones sees before the snap
and what his reason is for the technique he uses to create separation
from a cornerback.
It's a formula that's worked well for the Falcons (13-3) heading into
their divisional playoff game against Seattle (12-5) on Sunday at the
Jones, 23, has become the deep-ball threat that Atlanta needed before
general manager Thomas Dimitroff traded up 21 spots to draft him sixth
overall two years ago.
The numbers are impressive considering that only Detroit's Calvin Johnson and Tampa Bay's Vincent Jackson have more catches of 25 yards
or more than Jones' 27 since the start of last season.
This year, Jones leads the Falcons with 10 touchdown catches, and he
and Roddy White comprised one of four two-man tandems to each have at
least 1,000 yards receiving.
But the lessons keep on coming.
''Being as young as he is, he's still got to focus on the game plan -
what's the call, where do I go coming out of the huddle, what direction
do I go, what route do I have, do I go inside, do I go outside?''
''During the course of the ballgame with him, I've got to focus on the
guy across from him and let him, `Here's what they're doing to defend
With 30-plus years of NFL coaching experience, Robiskie is rarely
surprised by any move or decision Jones might attempt.
Their work on the field begins each day before practice starts as
Robiskie puts the receivers through sideline and end-zone line drills.
The purpose is for each receiver to keep his feet in bounds while
trying to catch balls that Robiskie purposely throws slightly out of
It's a drill Robiskie learned from his playing and assistant coaching
days with Raiders owner Al Davis and one that he's used over the last
30-plus years of working in the NFL.
''I throw the ball near the line where they literally have to dive or
reach out across the white (line),'' Robiskie said. ''They have to drag
their feet while focusing on the ball. On the end line, I try to throw
it high and in the back of the end zone. Their minds have to be on,
`I've got to catch the ball and drag my feet.' "
Jones showed how the work has paid off three weeks ago at Detroit as he
reached out to catch quarterback Matt Ryan's pass in the right corner
of the end zone and dragged his right foot while clutching the ball
against the left side of his chest.
The 16-yard catch against Lions cornerback Chris Houston gave the
Falcons a 21-3 lead late in the second quarter, but Jones' athleticism
was only part of play's success. It took long hours on the field for
the technique to seem like second nature.
''Practice makes perfect, man,'' Jones said. ''You've got to continue
to keep doing the little things so that it becomes easy to you when
you're in the game. When you're in that situation, you don't even think
twice about it.''
For Robiskie, it's fun to work with a ''coachable player like Julio.''
He says the three seasons that Jones spent at Alabama, helping coach
Nick Saban win his first national title with the Crimson Tide four
years ago, gave him the kind of humility that Robiskie values.
''By the same token, Roddy's been with me for five years now and even
when I got here (in 2008), he felt that he had all the answers
anyway,'' Robiskie said with a laugh. ''He already feels he's got it
all unless someone jacks him up and chokes him a little bit. But I
don't have to talk to him as much. With Julio, I have to talk to him
all the time because I've still got to focus on what I need to do from
this to this to this.''
Notes: DE John Abraham (ankle)
was limited in practice on Friday and is listed as questionable for
Sunday. ... Reserve S Charles Mitchell (calf) is also questionable. ...
SS William Moore (hamstring) fully participated in practice for the
first time in five weeks. He and CB Dunta Robinson (head) are both
listed as probable. ... After losing David Caldwell to become the
general manager with Jacksonville, Dimitroff promoted Lionel Vital to
replace him as director of player personnel. Vital is in his fifth
season with Atlanta, 22nd overall in the NFL.