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How much can Julio Jones give the Bucs in 2022? ‘We’ll see,’ Todd Bowles said

Limited by a knee injury, the former all-pro was targeted only twice on Sunday.
Bucs wide receiver Julio Jones (6) looks on from the bench late in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 41-31 home loss to the Chiefs. Jones never reappeared after failing to connect with Tom Brady on a deep route early in the second half.
Bucs wide receiver Julio Jones (6) looks on from the bench late in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 41-31 home loss to the Chiefs. Jones never reappeared after failing to connect with Tom Brady on a deep route early in the second half. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Oct. 3|Updated Oct. 3

TAMPA — In his first live action since opening night, Julio Jones made a cameo instead of a contribution.

The injury-besieged former all-pro was targeted twice by Tom Brady in Sunday night’s 41-31 loss to the Chiefs, never reappearing after failing to connect with his quarterback on a deep middle route early in the second half.

“He just never loosened back up for the second half,” coach Todd Bowles explained Monday. “So really no point in putting him back in there and making it worse.”

Now, less than 25 percent into the season, questions abound over just how much the 33-year-old receiver — limited to 19 total games the previous two seasons by hamstring issues — can contribute at this point. Jones, reportedly dealing with a torn posterior cruciate ligament that won’t need surgery, practiced on a limited basis this past week after not practicing the previous one.

“We’ll see,” Bowles said. “It’s still early in the season. We want to make sure we get a healthy guy before we make that evaluation.”

On a night when the team had its three most prominent receivers (Jones, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin) available for the first time since opening night, Jones finished with only one catch (on two targets) for 7 yards.

By contrast, Evans (eight catches, 103 yards, two touchdowns) and Godwin (seven catches 59 yards) provided the downfield dimension previously missing from the offense.

“It is great to see all your guys healthy,” Evans said. “I love my receivers, it is good to see them out there.”

Just how much more of Jones will be seen remains uncertain. A clearer indication of his availability for this week’s contest against the Falcons — his former team — won’t be known until the Bucs’ first game-week practice on Wednesday.

Elsewhere, Bowles said Monday that cornerback Carlton Davis (stinger) is OK, but indicated veteran safety Logan Ryan (foot) continues being evaluated.

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

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