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2012 Falcons Preseason: Julio Jones Loses Locks, Gains Confidence

Julio Jones has been wowing fans and analysts nationwide this preseason, displaying the unbelievable physical tools that compelled the Atlanta Falcons to trade multiple picks to move up to select him in last year's draft. Now, with a full offseason of OTAs and minicamps under his belt — thanks to the lockout, he didn't have any of those last year — Jones appears primed to lift off this season, and has the hairstyle to prove it.

In a story by The Associated Press, Jones is described as a confident football player, instead of an athletic rookie learning on the fly and struggling with inconsistency, which Falcons fans knew all too well last year. The AP quoted head coach Mike Smith as saying "Julio is a better player today than last year when we were breaking camp. There's no doubt about that."

He's also ditched his dreadlocks, which have been a trademark of his since he arrived at the University of Alabama as a highly touted freshman.

"It's like those Olympic swimmers who shave their heads because they don't want any resistance," [wide receiver Brian] Robiskie said. "Now, he's got nothing to hold him back. He's got no resistance up there. We think he was going fast before. I think he can actually fly now."

More important than the hair is the performance, which has been stellar. In about two quarters of football, he's caught nine passes for 150 yards, looking like the showcase of a high-octance passing attack, and potentially supplanting Roddy White as Matt Ryan's favorite target.

For more news and analysis on the Falcons, make sure to visit The Falcoholic.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.