Gonzalez closing in on 1,000 career catches

Gonzalez needs six catches and Owens need two to reach the 1,000-catch plateau. They would become the sixth and seventh players in league history with 1,000 catches and Gonzalez would become the first tight end.

"It would be a great honor for Tony to get those six catches," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "I certainly hope he does. At some point in time, I hope Terrell Owens gets his two catches. I just hope they are not this week."

Owens has 998 catches for 14,847 yards and 143 touchdowns.

"His numbers speak for themselves," Smith said. "He's real close to being in an exclusive club."

Gonzalez has 994 catches for 11,760 yards and 82 touchdowns.

If Owens gets the two receptions, he would become the third quickest player in NFL history to reach 1,000 catches (in 204 games) behind Marvin Harrison (167 games) and Jerry Rice (181).

If Owens gets his two catches and Gonzalez gets his six catches Sunday, Gonzalez would become the fourth fastest (205 games) to reach 1,000.

The other players with 1,000 catches are Cris Carter (210 games), Isaac Bruce (212) and Tim Brown (220).

Ryan practices

Quarterback Matt Ryan took part in practice Thursday in a limited capacity.

“He took some snaps which is right on schedule with what we wanted to do since we gave him the day off [Wednesday] to let that toe settle down,” Smith said.

Running back Michael Turner (ankle) and cornerback Chris Houston (hamstring) did not practice.

Book on Brohm

The Falcons probably have a better book on Buffalo quarterback Brian Brohm, who may get his first NFL start Sunday, than most teams in the league.

Before the 2008 draft, the Falcons thoroughly scouted Brohm and put him through an extensive private workout.

"I think they are going to do what they've been doing all season long and that's featuring the run game," Smith said. "They want to try to run the football with (Fred) Jackson, who is their leading rusher, then come with (Marshawn) Lynch. I don't think it's going to change a whole lot. We just haven't seen Brohm."

When the Falcons didn't take Brohm, he slipped into the second round and was selected by the Green Bay Packers (56th overall).

Striding with Stroud

Buffalo defensive tackle Marcus Stroud, the former Georgia standout, played for Smith when he was the defensive coordinator in Jacksonville.

"You don't move him off of the line of scrimmage," Smith said. "You don't move him out of the hole. You are going to have to get four hands on him because he's going to be somebody that will require two blockers."


Buffalo had 11 penalties for 124 yards last week against New England. The 104 yards in penalties in the first half were the most in one half by any team this season. ... The Bills gave up six sacks last week. ... Richie Icognito, who was fined $50,000 by the league for two unnecessary roughness penalties for head-butting during St. Louis' 47-7 loss to Tennessee on Dec. 13, now starts at right guard for the Bills. ... Bills linebacker and former Falcons second round pick (2003) Bryan Scott is not expected to play after suffering a concussion last Sunday.

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