As much as the Falcons might like to have Jones suit up, they would be wise to sit him. Here's why.
Risk of re-Injury
It's a common phenomenon among those rushed back to the field after injuring an ankle—they re-aggravate the injury, only prolonging the healing process.
Jones has apparently suffered the same fate, leaving last Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals in the third quarter after apparently re-aggravating the ankle injury he suffered in Atlanta's Week 10 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Some might argue Jones' return to practice signals he's ready to go, but that doesn't necessarily make Jones safe from re-injury in this weekend's game, nor down the line.
The Falcons know that first-hand.
When Michael Turner suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 10 of the 2009 season, the Falcons tried to bring him back as quickly as possible instead of giving him the necessary time to heal. The result? A re-aggravated ankle injury in Week 12 against the Buccaneers and then again in Week 15 against the New York Jets, allowing Turner to appear in just 11 games overall that year.
Playoff Appearance Already All but Secure
But that 2009 season didn't include a playoff appearance from the Falcons.
There's much more at stake this time around.
Atop the NFC at 9-1 heading into this weekend's matchup with Tampa Bay, the Falcons have all but secured themselves a spot in the playoffs. So why play the injured Jones this weekend and risk losing him when Atlanta will need him most?
That isn't to downplay the importance of this Sunday's game. There's still plenty of football left to be played, and anything can happen, especially with the Buccaneers and Saints back in the playoff hunt.
However, the fact remains that Matt Ryan has plenty of weapons outside of Jones. If the likes of Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez and Jacquizz Rodgers can't pick up the slack against Tampa Bay's last-ranked passing defense, then the Falcons have a much bigger problem on their hands than Jones' injury.
An Opportunity to Develop the Backups
It may not mean much to fans, but sitting Jones would give the Falcons a chance to see what they have in their reserves, and give their reserves a golden opportunity to showcase their worth.
Jones' absence would solidify Roddy White in the No. 1 spot, Harry Douglas would move to No. 2 and that means next in line at the No. 3 spot would be rookie Drew Davis. Davis gave us a taste of his abilities when he made a sensational grab in the back of the end zone against the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this season.
He finished with two catches for 30 yards that day, but he has just one for four yards since.
It would definitely be worthwhile to see what he can do with more playing time.