FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Don’t count on seeing much of Tony Gonzalez during training camp.
The veteran tight end for the Atlanta Falcons was on the field as the team kicked off training camp Thursday, but he’s not sticking around. Coach Mike Smith said he and Gonzalez reached an agreement back when the Falcons were persuading Gonzalez to return for another season that will allow plenty of flexibility.
“Before Tony decided to come back, he made some commitments to his family and after talking with Tony, we’ve come to a mutual agreement that we’re going to allow him to honor those commitments with his family,’’ Smith said. “So there will be some time where he’ll be here in training camp and there will be some time when he won’t. I think those decisions were made prior to him deciding whether he was going to play again. That’s really between Tony and I. We’re glad he’s here. He’s going to be here for a while and then he’s going to be gone and then he’ll be back. That’s a decision that Tony and I had conversations about through this offseason.’’
Yes, Gonzalez is getting preferential treatment. But guess what? He’s earned it. He’s the best tight end in NFL history. He’s a smart veteran, who always has taken care of his body.
A little missed practice time in training camp isn’t going to have an adverse impact on Gonzalez.