FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons linebacker Deion Jones, who has been out since Week 1 with a broken right foot, will return to the lineup Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens, coach Dan Quinn said Friday.
"He had an excellent week and really looked like himself,'' Quinn said of Jones. "I was optimistic the whole week to see where he would land, and he really nailed it all week long. He's dying to get going, and we're dying to have him back out.''
Jones, who had surgery to repair the foot after suffering the injury in the season opener at Philadelphia, was activated from injured reserve a few weeks ago. He was inactive, however, for games against the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints as the team proceeded with caution.
His return should provide a boost for the Falcons, whose defense ranks second to last in the league against the run and has had trouble defending running backs out of the backfield.
Jones was one of six Falcons starters placed on injured reserve since the beginning of the season, joining two-time Pro Bowl running back Devonta Freeman, Pro Bowl safety Keanu Neal, free safety Ricardo Allen, and guards Andy Levitre and Brandon Fusco.
Two players are eligible to be activated from IR per season, and the Falcons could do the same with Freeman, who had groin surgery but is eligible to return for the Dec. 23 matchup at Carolina.
Jones, arguably the best coverage linebacker in the NFL, immediately brings more speed to the defense. That could be crucial Sunday against Ravens rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson, who has had success running the ball while starting the past two games.
"Him coming back, that's huge for your defense in general,'' fellow linebacker De'Vondre Campbell said of Jones. "He's the captain of the defense. He's the Mike. He does some things really well that not a lot of people can do. Just having him back is going to be huge in general."
Quinn said he does not intend to put Jones on a "pitch count," so his return is likely to mean fewer reps for rookie Foye Oluokun and Duke Riley, although Oluokun appears likely to remain in the base package with Jones and Campbell.