Falcons: Can Deion Jones take starting job back this late in the offseason?

Falcons Jones

Deion Jones was activated off the Physically Unable to Perform list and returned to practice Wednesday after recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. And he’s returned to the Falcons with a completely different attitude.

“I had no question about me being back here,” Jones said via the team’s website. “I figured I was going to be back here, and I was just getting my mindset ready. Getting my body ready to come back. I definitely have a better outlook on the defense this year,” Jones continued. “I had a chance to look back and figure out where I can help, where I can get better and just being honest with myself.”

For several seasons now, Debo’s effectiveness has dropped, and there have also been some concerns about his attitude and leadership qualities. His newfound outlook on the team is excellent news for Falcons fans because Jeff Schultz of The Athletic reported earlier in the offseason the club had tried and failed in their attempts to trade Jones. The belief is the former LSU Tiger won’t be a distraction to the team, but can he take the starting job back this late in the offseason?

With a cap hit north of $20 million, sitting Deion Jones behind Rashaan Evans and Mykal Walker would be shocking. In terms of on-field production, though, it might not be so surprising. Evans and Walker have taken every first-team rep, starting both preseason games as well. But credit to Jones, he’s got a believer in Arthur Smith.

“I’ll give Deion credit, because he’s going to come out here and he’s going to compete. He’s going to work his way back in. It’s going to be hard to get on the field in that room. And that’s what you want with that competition. Rashaan and Mykal Walker are doing a great job. We gotta see what Troy (Andersen) can do. (Nathan) Landman, Dorian (Etheridge)? They’ve had good preseasons… It’s going to play itself out,” Smith said. “He has the right mindset to get out there and prove something. He knows what he has to improve from last year. That competition (in the inside linebacker position) is real. I appreciate him. He wanted to be back. He wants to compete. We’ll see where it goes.”

Since returning, Deion Jones has primarily worked with the third and fourth-team defenses and seen action on special teams, which he probably hasn’t done much his entire career. The final round of roster cuts is less than a week away, so a meteoric rise up the depth chart could be in the cards, but I find it unlikely. Coming off the worst season of his career, Jones is out to prove something in 2022. If he can return to his Pro Bowl production, the staff will have no choice but to find a way to get him on the field. That’s a big if though.
Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire
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