Atlanta Falcons Pro Bowl receiver Julio Jones, who leads the National Football League with 41 catches, might miss the rest of the season with a foot injury.
Coach Mike Smith said the initial diagnosis “was not encouraging,” while declining to give specifics of Jones’s injury or which foot was involved. The injury could keep Jones out for the Falcons’ remaining 11 games, according to ESPN, which cited an unidentified person familiar with the situation.
“He’s going to be a hard guy to replace if we have to replace him,” Smith said at a news conference. He said Jones will get a second opinion and treatment options tomorrow in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Jones, 24, was hurt during the Falcons’ 30-28 loss to the New York Jets last night, when he caught eight passes for a team-high 99 yards. Jones made a one-handed, 46-yard catch with less than six minutes left to help set up a go-ahead score for Atlanta before the Jets’ winning drive.
The sixth pick in the 2011 NFL draft, Jones had been the most consistent offensive threat this season for the Falcons, who are 1-4 after a 13-3 record last season. In addition to leading the NFL in receptions, he’s second to New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham with 580 receiving yards, and scored two touchdowns.
The loss of Jones may be the most significant injury for the Falcons, who have been without running back Steven Jackson since Week 2 because of a hamstring injury and have had receiver Roddy White slowed by an ankle sprain. White also strained his hamstring last night.
The Falcons have a bye during Week 6 before their next game, on Oct. 20 against the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers.