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Gonzalez Rejoins Falcons After Time Spent With Son

All-Pro Tight End Appears Rested, Ready for Season

By Paul Newberry AP Sports Writer | 8/23/2013, 6 a.m.
While the Atlanta Falcons hustled their way through a drill this week, Tony Gonzalez grabbed a clipboard from an assistant ...
All-Pro TE Tony Gonzalez returned to camp with the Atlanta Falcons, following his hiatus. (Photo by the Atlanta Falcons).

The Falcons made it easy, basically allowing a very grateful Gonzalez to set his own terms for how much time he would spend at training camp.

"That means everything to me," he said.

Gonzalez said he was concerned "a little bit" about the reaction of his teammates, how they would feel about him being excused for such a lengthy period while they all had to go through the grind of training camp.

Ryan quickly put those fears to rest by giving his blessing.

"He’s the leader of this football team," Gonzalez said. "When Matt was OK with it, that was good enough for me right there."

Ryan, who completed a nearly $104 million contract extension just as camp was beginning, expects to quickly recapture the rhythm he’s had with his tight end throughout their time together in Atlanta. Last season, they hooked up for 93 receptions, the most by Gonzalez since his final year with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2008, plus a huge catch that helped the Falcons rally for a victory over Seattle in the divisional playoffs after they squandered a big lead.

"He’s a guy who works extremely hard and takes care of himself extremely well," Ryan said. "He’s only been back for two days, and we’re already doing the same things we’ve been doing the last four or five years."