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To Steve Spagnuolo, Julio Jones is the one who got away

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) scores

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) scores a touchdown against Philadelphia Eagles inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans (59) during the first half of an NFL game, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, in Atlanta. Credit: AP / John Bazemore

Steve Spagnuolo was burned trying to figure out a way to catch Julio Jones from the very beginning.

"He sat in my office in St. Louis when he was getting ready for the draft," the former Rams head coach and current Giants defensive coordinator said on Thursday. "I was like, 'We've got to find a way to get this guy.' "

The Rams were unable to. Atlanta traded five picks -- including the following year's first-rounder -- to Cleveland to move up from 27th overall to sixth and snag Jones in the 2011 draft. The Rams, picking 14th that season, never had a chance.

Still, Jones, who played at Alabama, made an impression on Spags.

"Look, he's as impressive a guy as I've ever sat and talked to," the defensive coordinator said. "I'm talking about as a person, a football player, how smart he was, his goals, his vision, the whole thing. He was impressive."

Spagnuolo has had to face Jones three times in the NFL, and done a decent job of it. He hasn't scored a touchdown against a Spagnuolo-led defense.

In 2012, when Spagnuolo's Saints couldn't stop anyone, they held Jones to four catches for 75 yards in one game and five catches for 48 yards in the second. Last year when Spagnuolo was a Ravens assistant they held him to five catches for 56 yards.

Spagnuolo said Jones compares favorably to the Cowboys' Dez Bryant, for whom the Giants prepared last week.

"Very, very similar," he said. "Big guys, they can run, competitive guys. They want the ball in critical times in the game. Very similar. Very similar."

Jones has missed two Falcons practices this week with a hamstring injury, but Atlanta coach Dan Quinn said he expects the reigning NFC Offensive Player of the Week to be on the field defending his title Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

It'll be another chance for Spags to snag Jones.

New York Sports