How can Colts cover Julio Jones?

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver leads the NFL with 80 receptions.

The Atlanta Falcons line up wide receiver Julio Jones all over the field, so expect every member of the Indianapolis Colts secondary to be tested by the NFL’s reception leader Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

Ideally, the Colts would like to put Pro Bowl cornerback Vontae Davis on Jones, although it’s fair to say one man might not be able to effectively cover the pass catcher, who has 80 receptions for 1,029 yards and six touchdowns.

Davis doesn’t back down from anyone. He’s trash talked the best. But he also marvels at Jones as a 6-3, 220-pound physical specimen.

“He’s a different breed,” Davis said Wednesday. “He’s in his own world.

“He’s Brandon Marshall’s size with Sammy Watkins' speed. If you ask me, he’s probably all those guys in one (laughs). That’s just watching him on film.”

Davis actually shut out Watkins in Week 1. Jones presents a greater challenge. Such is the life of NFL cornerbacks counted upon to cover some of the NFL’s finest athletes on a weekly basis.

“You compete with the best, it brings the best out of you,” Davis said. “That’s just part of the game.”

But the Colts’ highest-paid player has allowed four touchdown passes this season, which is to say he hasn’t been the shutdown corner from a year ago. Still, if anyone is going to slow down Jones, it has to be a combination of him and double teams.

Nickel cornerback Darius Butler typically draws guys in the slot. Opposing quarterbacks typically go after cornerback Greg Toler on the other side. It stands to reason if Jones is opposite Toler, the Colts will have a safety backing up the defender.

“You respect everyone you play,” Butler said, “but growing up, you always want to play against the best. Obviously, you pride yourself in being one of the best. So you just try to go out there and lock horns and may the best man win.”

The Falcons (6-3) have lost three of four, so expect quarterback Matt Ryan to count on Jones more to ensure the home team snaps out of its funk. Jones has had four double-digit catch games, including the past two games. But his 22 catches for 299 yards and one TD didn’t prevent losses to Tampa Bay and San Francisco.

“The guy is a rare, rare talent,” Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said. “Combination of height, weight and speed. For a long guy, he runs excellent routes. He can get in and out of breaks. He can beat you on shallow crossers, run away from you, run after catch, can beat you at the line of scrimmage, take it deep. Red area, he’s a threat. Screen game, he can do everything possible, imaginable to get the ball in his hands. Obviously he’s been targeted over 100 times and has 80 catches, over 1,000 yards with six touchdowns. 

“It’s all hands on deck, so to speak, to just try to contain him because nobody has really had an answer for him yet.”

Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.


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