2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Falcons' Gonzalez takes new approach to final camp

By GEORGE HENRY - Associated Press
    2013-07-26 17:59

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) - Tony Gonzalez had to wait until his final season to strike a perfect training camp balance for both him and the Atlanta Falcons.

NFL players routinely are excused from practice to address serious personal matters, but it's very rare for them to get big blocks of time away from the team for non-emergencies.

Gonzalez, though, had plenty of leverage with the Falcons after helping them advance to the NFC title game last season and earning his 13th Pro Bowl invitation.

So the two sides struck an accord to suit them both.

Gonzalez, 37, agreed in March to put off his retirement to return for a fifth year in Atlanta and 17th overall. In turn, the team agreed to let him miss parts of training camp so could spend extra time with family and watch his 12-year-old son Nikko practice football in California.

``Right now, I'm here, but there were some obligations I made to my family, more specifically to my son last year around this time, because I was going to retire,'' he said. ``I wasn't joking about that last season.''

On the first day of training camp last year, Gonzalez told reporters that he was 95 percent that 2012 would be his last season.

But after Atlanta fell 10 yards shy of winning the NFC title, Gonzalez told himself the Falcons were too talented - and that he was still playing at such an elite level - that he might regret not trying one last time to reach the Super Bowl.

After all, it took 16 years for him to finally win a playoff game. Now he has a chance to help Atlanta, which earned a No. 1 playoff seed in 2010 and '12, win the Lombardi Trophy.

``This is my last season, and I'm looking forward to it,'' he said. ``This is going to be fun - just being with the guys that are on this team and with the fan support - the sky's the limit on what we can do, but we have to work hard. We know we're a long way away from where we were last year, and it starts with that first game in New Orleans.''

Neither Gonzalez nor coach Mike Smith said how many days the player will miss, but both added there's no cause for concern. Both insist the absences won't affect his job performance.

``There'll be some time that he'll be here in training camp, and some time where he won't,'' Smith said. ``I think those decisions were made prior to him deciding whether he was going to play again. We're glad he's here. He's going to be here for a while, and then he's going to be gone. Then he'll be back.''

Added Gonzalez, ``I'll join the team early. I'm not going to be showing up the week before the game. I'll be out here a lot earlier than that, but I'll be ready to go, too. You can bet the house on that.''

In past years, Gonzalez never tried to hide his disdain for training camp. Too much work that caused too many bodies to wear down during in the season, he often said, but the NFL's new collective bargaining agreement limited the number of workouts and how much players had to wear pads.

It helped further that Smith routinely gives players in his ``over-30 club'' extra time off during the season, and Gonzalez appreciated that the Falcons had allowed him in past years to miss all of the offseason workouts.

Quarterback Matt Ryan said on Friday that he flew to Southern California recently to spend a couple of days on the field with Gonzalez and make sure their timing on routes stays sharp.

``He and I have a great rapport,'' Ryan said. ``I think that with that time and then over the last couple of days out here, it's going to be fine when he comes back. It's not an issue at all.''

Another influence on his decision to put off retirement this year was the offseason support from Atlanta fans. He was delighted that the Fox Theatre downtown scrolled ``Tony Gonzalez Is Coming Back!!!'' across its marquee.

``My wife is big on social media, and she told me how they had a fan page and people were signing petitions to try to get me back,'' Gonzalez said. ``That's cool stuff right there to know that the city is behind you, and I know it's not just me. It's behind what we have here as a team, and they know that I'm just a part of that puzzle.''

Notes: The Falcons announced they've sold out all home games for this season. Single game tickets were gone after one day on sale this week, but some club seats and suites are still available. Team president Rich McKay said the Falcons set a franchise high in season ticket sales earlier this year. Atlanta went 8-1 at the Georgia Dome last season before losing the NFC championship game. ... For the second straight day, rookie CBs Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford, the first- and second-round draft picks, took turns with the first-team defense. Neither is having much luck in defending Pro Bowl WRs Julio Jones and Roddy White, but Ryan praised the rookies' perseverance. ``Trufant came up with a pick on me earlier,'' Ryan said. ``He made a great break on the ball, and Alford contested probably three or four passes. I've been impressed with those guys. They've got good swagger, and I think they're really going to help our football team.''

---

Follow George Henry on Twitter: http://twitter.com/georgehenryAP

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Thaddeus LewisJul 22 10:33a

Buffalo Bills QBs Jeff Tuel and Thaddeus Lewis are alternating series with the second unit in team drills Tuesday, July 22.

Tyler BrayJul 22 09:13a

Kansas City Chiefs QBs Tyler Bray and Chase Daniel are likely to compete for one roster spot with QB Aaron Murray likely to make the team behind starting QB Alex Smith.

Navorro BowmanJul 22 12:13a

San Francisco 49ers LB NaVorro Bowman (knee) will likely return to action in Week 9 after the team's Week 8 bye, according to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee.

Jacques McClendonJul 21 11:03p

Jacksonville Jaguars OG Jacques McClendon is the frontrunner to start at right guard heading into training camp, according to Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com. OG Brandon Linder is the other candidate for the starting job.

Aaron ColvinJul 21 10:53p

Jacksonville Jaguars CB Aaron Colvin (knee) will begin training camp and the regular season on the Physically Unable to Perform list as he recovers from a torn anterior cruciate [ More ]

Jeromy MilesJul 21 10:03p

Baltimore Ravens S Jeromy Miles has seen some reps with the first-team defense this offseason and is a dark horse candidate to win the starting free safety job, according to ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley.

Brandon MosleyJul 21 09:43p

New York Giants OT Brandon Mosley will be given the first chance to start in place of OG Chris Snee when the first-team offensive line takes the field Tuesday, [ More ]

T.J. GrahamJul 21 09:23p

Buffalo Bills WR T.J. Graham had a pass fall through his hands after beating his defender on a deep route in camp Monday, July 21.ESPN.com's Mike Rodak believes Graham [ More ]

Sammy WatkinsJul 21 09:02p

Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins made several big plays in practice Monday, July 21, according to ESPN.com's Mike Rodak. Watkins beat CB Leodis McKelvin deep, hauled in a pass [ More ]

Marvin JonesJul 21 07:03p

Cincinnati Bengals QB A.J. McCarron (shoulder), WR Marvin Jones (ankle) and CB Onterio McCalebb (knee) have been placed on the Non-Football Injury list.

Devon StillJul 21 07:03p

Cincinnati Bengals OG Clint Boling (knee), LB Marquis Flowers (hamstring), P Kevin Huber (neck), WR Colin Lockett (hamstring), DT Zach Minter (back), DT Devon Still (back) and WR Ryan [ More ]

Cordy GlennJul 21 06:53p

Buffalo Bills OT Cordy Glenn (illness) does not have a timetable for his return at this point, according to head coach Doug Marrone. 'I don't know that. It's a [ More ]

Mike CaussinJul 21 06:43p

The Washington Redskins have signed free-agent TE Mike Caussin (Bills). Terms of the contract were not disclosed. The team also waived LS Kyle Nelson.

Cheta OzougwuJul 21 06:32p

New Orleans Saints DE Cheta Ozougwu (undisclosed) and DT John Jenkins (pectoral) have been placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Brennan WilliamsJul 21 06:22p

Houston Texans OT Brennan Williams (undisclosed) has been waived with a failed physical designation.

Brian CushingJul 21 06:22p

Houston Texans DT Louis Nix (undisclosed), LB Brian Cushing (undisclosed) and LB Trevardo Williams (undisclosed) have been placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Eric HaggJul 21 06:13p

Denver Broncos SS Eric Hagg has informed the team that he has decided to retire from professional football.

Dominique EasleyJul 21 05:23p

New England Patriots DT Dominique Easley, RB Roy Finch, LB Deontae Skinner and OT Chris Martin have been placed on the team's non-football injury list.

Alfonzo DennardJul 21 05:23p

New England Patriots CB Alfonzo Dennard (shoulder), WR Aaron Dobson (foot), WR Jeremy Gallon (undisclosed), DT Tommy Kelly (knee) and WR Matthew Slater (undisclosed) will begin training camp on [ More ]

Leon HallJul 21 05:12p

Cincinnati Bengals DT Geno Atkins (knee) and CB Leon Hall (Achilles') will begin training camp on the team's physically unable to perform list.

Jon BeasonJul 21 05:12p

New York Giants LB Jon Beason (foot) will begin training camp on the team's physically unable to perform list.

John JerryJul 21 05:02p

New York Giants OT William Beatty (leg), OG John Jerry (knee) and WR Mario Manningham (knee) will be limited when training camp starts.

Kraig UrbikJul 21 04:33p

Buffalo Bills OT Chris Hairston and OG Kraig Urbik saw first-team repetitions at right guard Monday, July 21.

Dezmon BriscoeJul 21 04:03p

The Dallas Cowboys signed free-agent WR Dezmon Briscoe (Redskins), according to his agent. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Phillip HuntJul 21 03:12p

Former Philadelphia Eagles DE Phillip Hunt (knee) has recovered from anterior cruciate ligament surgery and should begin workouts with teams in the near future.

Chris ConteJul 21 02:12p

Chicago Bears FS Chris Conte said he feels good as he recovers from shoulder surgery, but is unsure of his availability for the start of training camp. He could [ More ]

Alameda Ta'amuJul 21 01:53p

Arizona Cardinals DT Alameda Ta'amu (knee) and FS Tyrann Mathieu (knee) are candidates to be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list at the start of training camp.

David WilsonJul 21 01:42p

New York Giants RB David Wilson (neck) should be able to help the offense if he is able to stay healthy this upcoming season, according to former offensive coordinator [ More ]

Chris SneeJul 21 01:42p

Updating a previous report, New York Giants OG Chris Snee has officially announced his retirement from professional football.

Garrett CelekJul 21 01:22p

San Francisco 49ers TEs Derek Carrier and Garrett Celek will compete for the No. 3 tight end spot during training camp.

De'Anthony ThomasJul 21 01:22p

Kansas City Chiefs RB De'Anthony Thomas spent most of his time with the running backs during practice Monday, July 21. Thomas run a lot of passing routes out of [ More ]

Christopher OwensJul 21 01:13p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (knee), WR Kyle Williams (knee), WR A.J. Jenkins (hamstring) and CB Christopher Owens (hamstring) participated in practice Monday, July 21.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group