Gonzalez: Bigger players, more injuries

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Tony Gonzalez hasn’t missed a game since Nov. 19, 2006, when a shoulder injury caused him be inactive for the Kansas City Chiefs against the Oakland Raiders.

With the rash of injuries around the NFL this season, particularly among his Atlanta Falcons teammates, Gonzalez has a theory he believes explains the attrition.

"Bigger, faster, stronger," the veteran tight end said Thursday. "That’s what I think the injuries are coming from: bigger, faster, stronger guys.

"Somebody tearing their Achilles because these big, strong guys are pushing you and you are kicking back, and all of sudden your Achilles tears whereas before, maybe 15, 20 years ago, where a guy pushes you, you’re not going as hard, so you can recover quickly. That’s just my opinion."

Nine Falcons have been placed on injured reserve this season, including top receiver Julio Jones after foot surgery. Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, who suffered a foot injury in Week 2, was placed on short-term IR with a designation to return as early as Week 11.

"Guys like Julio, guys like 'Spoon on defense, that big and strong and fast running around, when they hit you,'' Gonzalez explained. "Or even when you’re running, let’s say nobody’s even touching you. A guy like Julio, 6-foot-3, 230 pounds running a 4.2, that’s bad on your joints. When he cuts, you cut hard. Stuff breaks and stuff pops and tears. You’re going too fast, it seems like.

"There are injuries nobody’s even around the guy, and the guy’s getting hurt. That’s just my opinion: bigger, faster, stronger."

So how has the 37-year-old Gonzalez been able to avoid missing games due to injury over the last seven seasons?

"I don’t get hurt because I’m so slow," he joked.

Gonzalez has missed only two games in his NFL career. The other was the season-opener in 1999 at Chicago.