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Julio Jones, Titans, Hope The Best is Yet to Come


NASHVILLE – Julio Jones had celebrated NFL touchdowns before – 66 of them, to be exact, before his scoring catch in Sunday's win over the Texans.

But his touchdown grab for the Titans in the team's 17th regular season game provided the veteran's new teammates a chance to celebrate him, with him.

And, perhaps, his most recent performance offered a glimpse of even better things to come. Time will tell.

"It felt good to get out there and start hitting some shots, and making some plays for the offense," Jones said after his five-catch, 58-yard contest that included his first touchdown as a Titan. "It was good. It's been a process for me, going back and forth playing, not playing.

"The guys just supported me through the whole time, and they came out there and they celebrated (after the three-yard touchdown catch), and we shared that moment. It was just cool to have your brothers out there. We play one play at a time for one another."

It's been a relatively quiet season for Jones, a seven-time Pro Bowler with the Falcons who was traded to the Titans after racking up Hall of Fame numbers (848 catches, 12,896 receiving yards) during his 10 seasons in Atlanta.

In Tennessee, Jones has now played in just 10 games, and he's tied for fourth on the team with 31 catches, and third in receiving yards with 434. Slowed by a hamstring injury that forced him to miss six games during the regular season, plus one game while on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, Jones' impact maybe hasn't been what some expected.

In some of the games he's played in, he wasn't targeted much, and didn't seem to be a big part of the game plan.

But that changed on Sunday, when he was targeted a team-high nine time.

The Titans hope things are trending in the right direction, just in time for the postseason.

"I think the ability for him to be out there and put some days of practice together and Ryan (Tannehill) to start to build some trust in throwing the football there," Titans Coach Mike Vrabel said of Jones and his performance in Houston. "I thought he played really well for us. I saw him trying to block, trying to finish, so it was great."

Added teammate A.J. Brown: "Man, it's good just to have him out there, man, doing what he does. Just like I said, just him being out there, you got to account for him. I'm glad to see him get in the end zone. He was excited."

Jones, in his 11th NFL season, has played in eight career playoff games, racking up 61 catches for 834 yards and six touchdowns in those contests.

Heading into the postseason, Jones acknowledged he didn't play his best against the Texans.

Tannehill tried to connect with Jones on a pair of deep balls, but the passes appeared to be overthrown on a day when Jones caught five of the nine targets, including one for a 19-yard gain.

"I know I can do way better," he said. "For me for sure, just opportunities and things like that, and taking advantage of them. I don't like to leave things on the field, I like to leave it all out on the field. It's going to take time and things like that, and repping it."

Jones also knows this: He's capable of doing more, and being better.

The Titans need him now more than ever.

"I have been playing the game for so long," Jones said. "I am here. Whatever the team needs me to do, I am willing to do, and I can do it. If defenses, defensive coordinators or whatever underestimate me, that's great. I love it, we'll take advantage of it.

"It was good being a part of the offense (in Houston), and moving forward, helping where I can help to help the team."

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