Pro Bowl wide receiver Julio Jones has yet to join the Atlanta Falcons for offseason workouts, according to multiple sources, and the deletion of Falcons photos from his Instagram page fueled speculation of unrest between Jones and the team.
Jones was not with his teammates when the Falcons officially began offseason workouts last week but was expected back this week. He wasn’t present, however, when the players returned to the field Monday.
The team said the deletion of the Falcons photos had to do with Jones wanting a “fresh start” on social media and nothing more.
The Falcons have prioritized signing quarterback Matt Ryan to an extension this offseason, with Ryan having one year and $19.25 million left on his deal. General manager Thomas Dimitroff also talked about nose tackle Grady Jarrett, left tackle Jake Matthews and free safety Ricardo Allen possibly being extended. The immediate focus is preparing for Thursday’s NFL draft.
The Falcons have said it is important to have Jones healthy this offseason to put in the practice time with Ryan. Jones is working out with Hall of Fame receiver Terrell Owens.
Jones’ absence from the team will become more of a concern if he’s not around for mandatory minicamp, June 12-14.
Acuna notched an eighth-inning single and also the game-tying run as the Braves earned their first win in the four-game series.
Acuna wore No. 13, just like fellow Venezuelans Dave Concepcion and Ozzie Guillen.
Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said Acuna acquitted himself well.
“I thought he was really good,” Snitker said. “Nothing affected him. He wasn’t overwhelmed. He went out and played his game.”
Acuna rose from Class A to Triple-A in 2017, hitting a combined .325 with 21 home runs, 82 RBIs and 44 stolen bases. Then he was selected MVP of the Arizona Fall League. Acuna is ranked No. 1 on ESPN Insider Keith Law’s top 100 prospects list. He began this season as MLB.com’s No. 2 overall prospect behind Angels two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani.
Acuna got Braves fans enthused this spring, batting .432 with four homers, four stolen bases and a 1.247 OPS in 16 exhibition games.
“He’s a talented young man,” Snitker said prior to Wednesday’s win. “He just needs to let the talent flow and enjoy playing here.”
Acuna said the best piece of advice he ever received was from Seattle second baseman Robinson Cano.
“In this game, you always have to stay positive and never lose faith,” Acuna said before his debut.