072613 FLOWERY BRANCH: --Matt Ryan calls a play at the line of scrimmage on the second day of team practice at training camp on Friday, July 26, 2013, in Flowery Branch. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM
FLOWERY BRANCH -- Soon Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez will leave training camp and return home to California to be with his son, Nico, for his first year playing youth football. Gonzalez and coach Mike Smith made the arrangement before Gonzalez decided to put off retirement and return for a 17th season.
Quarterback Matt Ryan said he doesn’t think Gonzalez’s time away will affect his preparation or the team’s chemistry in the passing game.
“He always maintains his shape really, really well,” Ryan said. “He and I have a great rapport. We’ve worked together a lot. I was out in California prior to training camp to get some work in (for) a couple days. That timing and the last couple of days and then when he gets back will be plenty of time. It’s not an issue at all.”
When Gonzalez leaves camp, three other tight ends on the roster likely will vie for time with the starting group: Chase Coffman, Tommy Gallarda and rookie Levine Toilolo. Coffman and Gallarda have served as Falcons backups, and the team selected Toilolo in the fourth round of the draft.
Those three players have a combined four years of NFL experience, compared with Gonzalez’s 16.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for those guys,” Ryan said. “And they are all hard workers, and they all do a good job. It will be interesting to see how things shake out the next couple of weeks.”