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Julio Jones prefers low profile for Falcons

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Julio Jones prefers low profile for Falcons

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) Julio Jones isn't interested in discussing his accomplishments.

Bravado isn't his style.

``I've been like this my whole life,'' Jones said Friday. ``This is the way I am.''

Jones' transformation into a professional receiver with the Atlanta Falcons started at Alabama, where Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban enforced a businesslike approach to practice and film study.

But Jones said he was soft-spoken long before he signed a scholarship at Alabama.

Growing up in the small town of Foley, Ala. - about 25 miles southeast of Mobile and 10 miles from the Gulf of Mexico - Jones learned at an early age that performance meant far more to him than words.

``You let your play do the talking out there on the field, man,'' Jones said. ``I'm not going to say anything negative about the next man I'm going against, you know? I'm just going to go out there and give it my all for 60 minutes.''

When the Atlanta Falcons (11-2) host the New York Giants (8-5) on Sunday, Jones could move into a bigger role and become quarterback Matt Ryan's top target.

Roddy White, the team's leading receiver, has a sore right knee and did not practice this week.

If Jones becomes Ryan's primary option, the second-year wideout says he is prepared for the challenge. But don't expect Jones to pound his chest or do some fancy dance in the end zone.

``I just go out there and try to perform and be consistent for this organization,'' Jones said. ``Especially being in the NFL, it's all about consistency and working hard. Everybody is athletic here in the NFL. It's all about continuing to try to get better.''

As the NFL's sixth overall draft pick last year, Jones was scrutinized as a golden child of sorts.

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff sent Atlanta's No. 27 spot in the first round to Cleveland and gave the Browns a second- and fourth-round pick in 2011 and a first- and fourth-round spot this year to acquire the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Jones.

Despite missing three games last season with hamstring injuries, Jones averaged 17.8 yards and scored eight touchdowns on 54 catches.

Through as many games this year - 13 - Jones already has 63 catches for a 15.8 average and seven touchdowns - but the statistics mean very little to him in the context of his team's success.

``It's never affected me,'' Jones said. ``I just go out there and play. I told you before. I can't go out there and be Superman, you know? They traded up to get me and everything because they see the potential.''

The 23-year-old Jones even decided during the offseason to give himself a new look, too, cutting off his beloved dreadlocks and donating the effort to ``Locks of Love,'' a national cancer charity.

The haircut, he soon believed, better fit his straight-man persona. Plus, Jones said he wanted no part of trying to match the outspoken White, a four-time Pro Bowl selection who rarely lets his swagger down in conversation.

``What I appreciate about Julio is that he listens and tries to get better every day,'' Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said. ``He listens to what (receivers coach) Terry (Robiskie) tells him, and I think Julio is influenced by Roddy and Matt, two really good role models that are teammates, and what those guys say to him. I think Julio has become a much more consistent player throughout this year. When he's healthy, he's a guy that you think can break the game open at any time.''

Jones appreciates, though, how the fun-loving White showed him how to succeed on the field without letting the job become tedious.

It has helped, too, having 16th-year tight end Tony Gonzalez, the NFL's No. 2 career-leaving receiver, as a teammate.

``Maybe on a lot of teams, if you're the No. 1 guy, you could be bored with it, you know?'' Jones said. ``But here you've got all these guys to keep you up, and they tell you to keep pushing. Especially coming from a Hall of Fame tight end like Tony - he's been in the game so long and he keeps doing it.''

Jones still marvels at how hard the 36-year-old Gonzalez works in practice.

``It shows you the way not to be bored out there and keep getting better,'' he said. ``Catch balls, catch balls. Muscle memory.''

Notes: White and SS William Moore (hamstring) were limited in participation at practice. Both are listed as questionable along with DT Jonathan Babineaux (ribs) and WR Harry Douglas (ribs). ... CB Asante Samuel (shoulder), LT Sam Baker (hand) and RG Justin Blalock (hand) fully participated and are listed as probable.

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Game 60: Capitals vs. Lightning Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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USA TODAY Sports

Game 60: Capitals vs. Lightning Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Lightning will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Lightning game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

You can also stream the game online with no cable TV subscription on fuboTV (try for free!).

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

The Capitals (34-18-7) take on the Lightning (39-17-3) Tuesday, February 20 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Washington.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME ON?

The Capitals-Lightning game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Lightning
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Lightning game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Defensemen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Madison Bowey

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Taylor Chorney

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

The Capitals-Lightning game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

The game is also available to stream, along with all the pregame and postgame shows, on fuboTV (try for free).

CAPITALS-LIGHTNING OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

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Need to Know: Redskins' Junior Galette will be a valued free agent

Need to Know: Redskins' Junior Galette will be a valued free agent

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, February 20, 22 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

Galette to be a valued free agent

Originally published 12/13/17

Like the Redskins, the Broncos are no longer relevant in 2017. Both teams’ fan bases have started to look towards the coming offseason.

To give their readers what they want, the Denver Post published an article by Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus that discussed some of the top pending free agents who have done the most to increase their values in the past year. There were two Redskins named, one you would expect to see on such a list and one that might surprise some people.

Kirk Cousins is at the top of the list. “The Washington signal-caller is grading as a top-10 quarterback (82.8), and soon he’ll have the long-term contract of one,” Renner wrote. “Only this time its value will be exponentially higher than any one he would have signed back when he first became a free agent in 2016.”

But the surprising name is that of Junior Galette. After missing the last two seasons with two torn Achilles tendons, he played this year on a one-year, $800,000 deal. And while he hasn’t been on fire in the sack department with just two on the year, he has been getting pressure on the passer.

“He’s accumulated the 27th-highest pass-rushing grade of any edge defender this season, but in only 264 snaps,” wrote Renner. “At 29 years of age, it’s doubtful he ever gets back to the level of the contract that he once had on the table with New Orleans. With how he’s played this season though, some pass-rush-needy team will pay handsomely for his services.”

One team that could be considered to be pass rush needy is the Redskins. Preston Smith is the starter and supposedly one of the Redskins’ top pass rushers. But in 100 fewer pass rush snaps this year, Galette has only three fewer quarterback hits than Smith and six more hurries.

And after missing those two seasons, Galette has remained healthy. Although he was limited with a hamstring during much of the preseason, he has not missed a practice or appeared on an injury report this year.

But would the Redskins be willing to pay him “handsomely”? Perhaps a good comp would be Connor Barwin, who moved from the Eagles to the Rams this past offseason at the age of 31. He had five sacks in Philly in 2016. That got him a one-year deal worth $3.5 million.

Barwin likely will have more sacks on his ledger going into free agency so let’s say Galette could command around $3 million. Perhaps he could offer Washington a bit of a hometown discount and agree to something in the $2.75 million range. If that is the case, the Redskins would be smart to keep him around for another year.

Plenty of things could alter the equation. If Galette gets hot in the last three games and posts a few more sacks his price could rise. With Smith and Ryan Kerrigan both back next year, perhaps Galette will want to go somewhere that he might get more playing time.

The details need to be sorted out but don’t be surprised if Galette gets a lot of attention in free agency, as much as teams need pass rush, and if the Redskins have to make a very tough decision about how much he is worth.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 9
—NFL Draft (4/26) 65
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 201