When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed veteran wide receiver Julio Jones this offseason, he was viewed more as a luxury as opposed to a necessity. But so far, Jones appears to have surpassed that initial impression.
"He’s been more than I expected, to be honest," Bucs general manager Jason Licht said during a radio appearance on WDAE on Thursday (h/t Joey Knight of the Tampa Bay Times).
After hamstring injuries limited him to 19 games over the last two seasons, Jones seems poised for a bounce-back year in Tampa Bay. He will be a member of a deep, talented receiving corps that includes Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Russell Gage and Breshad Perriman. But through the first two weeks of training camp, Jones has been the standout.
"You know, he looks good," Bucs coach Todd Bowles said of Jones on Monday. "Obviously not being with the team in the offseason, he’s still got to get in a little better shape, but we like what we see in him. He’s explosive, very smart, understands the game and he can help us."
A seven-time Pro Bowl selection, Jones was once arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL. Playing in Tampa Bay, he won't have to be the No. 1 option, but rather another reliable offensive weapon for star quarterback Tom Brady to use to his advantage.
"Everything’s coming to me,” Jones said after getting a veteran's day off from practice Thursday. “The game of football, you just don’t want to have to go out there and think. You want it to become second nature to you. But I’m picking it up fairly quickly, and it’s been good."
Jones reportedly isn't expected to play in Saturday's preseason opener against the Miami Dolphins.