FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- For the past three days, it has been different for Matt Ryan during Atlanta Falcons training camp. Yes, it's a new coach and a new offensive scheme, but the player he has been so accustomed to over the past decade isn't here either.
Julio Jones is in Tennessee, traded to the Titans in June. So while Ryan worked without Jones during minicamp and organized team activities, this has been the first time since 2010 he would be going into a season without the future Hall of Fame receiver.
"That's always the hard part of our business, when things like this happen," Ryan said. "I was fortunate to play with him for a long time and have tons of great memories from his time here. I've said it before. 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.
"I know he wanted to move on and I hope he has a lot of success in Tennessee because he's a good friend. 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."
Ryan targeted Jones 1,291 times during their tenure together, with Jones catching 833 passes for 12,628 yards and 59 touchdowns from Ryan -- all best among pass-catchers from Ryan during his career. Ryan had targeted Jones 258 more times than any other player in his Falcons career.
Only Roddy White (52) and Tony Gonzalez (35) had nearly as many touchdown receptions from Ryan as Jones did. Ryan said he found out the deal was done a few hours before it became public knowledge, and that even though he knew Jones wanted a trade, he wasn't sure if it would get done.
"You never know with these things," Ryan said. "Even when guys sometimes want to move on, circumstances change and they are not able to so you never really know. The private conversations I have with Julio and with our front office remain that way, but you never are 100 percent certain about how things are going to shake out."
It shook out with Jones in Tennessee -- he'll return to Atlanta, potentially, for the preseason opener next month at Mercedes Benz Stadium -- and Ryan at his team's practice facility working with a receiving corps led by Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage, new situations for both the star receiver and his old quarterback.