- Vaughn McClure, ESPN Atlanta Falcons reporter
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The young right tackle was well aware of Gonzalez’s kind words.
"It means a lot coming from a guy who I idolized growing up in Kansas," Schraeder said of Gonzalez, who started his career with Kansas City. "To be his teammate and pick up little things from him, obviously he’s done a lot of things right so there was a lot to learn from him. Hopefully I can live up to his expectations."
Being singled out by Gonzalez is part of the reason Schraeder believes he should be the team’s right tackle of the future.
"I definitely do feel that," Schraeder said. "I’m confident in my ability. I love the game. And I feel like it’s a role I can grow into. I’m just looking forward to getting right for next season and getting ready to go."
Here’s Schraeder’s self-evaluation of the 2013 season:
Position: right tackle
Contract status: Signed through 2015 ($585,677 cap number in 2014)
2013 games played/starts: 13/4
Overview: Schraeder, an undrafted rookie from Valdosta State (Ga.), took over the starting role at right tackle late in the season after showing promise as the jumbo tight end. His performance against a rather strong San Francisco 49ers defensive front drew rave reviews from the coaches. It made you wonder why he didn’t get a chance to start ahead of Jeremy Trueblood earlier in the season. Schraeder definitely has a mean streak in him and is full of confidence. The 6-foot-7, 300-pound Schraeder is yet another project for new offensive line coach Mike Tice.
Schraeder’s self-evaluation: "I just have to get bigger, stronger; improve my technique. I have to work my tail off and good things will happen. There were a lot of positives, a couple of negatives. And [the negatives] suck because it hurts when it affects the game. You just want to do better. I feel like I’ve taken some big steps, gone against some good players. And I feel confident in my ability. Just have to keep working and getting better."
Monday: Joe Hawley
As he walked into retirement, Hall of Fame-bound tight end Tony Gonzalez made sure to point out one Atlanta Falcon he thought had a bright future: Ryan Schraeder.