Atlanta Falcons training camp is different. For everybody. And not just because a new GM, a new coach and a new scheme are in place.
Julio. That's what's different.
"That's always the hard part of our business, when things like this happen," long-time Atlanta QB Matt Ryan said from training camp. "I was fortunate to play with him for a long time and have tons of great memories from his time here.
"He probably has impacted my career as significantly as anybody that I've ever played with so I love him and I wish him the best moving forward.''
"Moving forward'' is really the point here. A decade of partnership is over, Julio Jones having been traded to Tennessee, at his request. So this summer marks the first time since 2010 that Ryan is without Jones.
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"I know he wanted to move on and I hope he has a lot of success in Tennessee because he's a good friend,'' Ryan said. "At the same time, part of the deal is that you have to keep moving forward and you have to work with the guys that are here."
And there it is. "Part of the deal,'' indeed.
Ryan and Jones formed one of the NFL's best pass-catch pairings during their time together. Now? Ryan can keep developing the same relationship with Calvin Ridley, and start developing the same relationship with rookie Kyle Pitts. And he'll develop a relationship with new coach Arthur Smith, too, as the organization will move on.
Because it must. Because that's "part of the deal.''